Archive | November 19th, 2010



November 19, 2010  

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Franklin Lamb– Mideast Report, BEIRUT

(Al-ManarTV :: News)

US Ambassador to Lebanon, Maura Conelley

“I’ve got these [expletive deleted] just where we want them Maura!   Watch the 1000 slow cuts as we shred Hezbollah–who do they think they are? And we’ll do it by using 1757 and this time we’re going all the way. I told Israel to stay out of Lebanon because the IDF can’t defeat Hezbollah plus the whole region would burn.

I will handle this and it will be my Christmas present to Lebanon.” So said Jeffrey Feltman in conversation with his former office staffer, now US Ambassador to Lebanon, Maura Connelly during October 17, 2010 visit with MP Walid Jumblatt at his Clemenceau residence.

On December 12, 2008, reported that “Former US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman presented Prime Minister Fuad Siniora with what the American diplomat described as his personal Christmas present to Lebanon. Mr. Feltman assured PM Siniora that he will force Israel out of Ghajar village before the end of 2008.”

As it turned out, Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and Lebanon never did receive Feltman’s promised 2008 Christmas present and Israel still has its tanks and troops in Lebanon’s Ghajar village even as pressure mounts for ending its four-year illegal occupation of North Ghajar which, in violation of UNSCR 1701, Israel invaded in July 2006 and  from which it has refused to withdraw.


Jeffrey Feltman – US undersecretary of State for Near East Affairs

This holiday season Jeff is again assuring his Lebanese allies that he’s Santa Claus and Hezbollah’s head will adorn his sleigh during his Christmas eve rounds. The reason for his optimism is that US and Israel are quietly confident that they can achieve with UNSCR 1757 what was intended but fell short with UNSCR 1559, which is stripping Lebanon’s Resistance of its defensive weapons.

On November 11th, Vice Premier and Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom predicted that “an STL (Special Tribunal for Lebanon) indictment against Hezbollah will lead to the implementation of Resolution 1559 and the forced disarming of the Party as well as the collapse of the effort at a Syrian-Lebanese-Iranian-Turkish alliance.

The grand trophy would be Hassan Nasrallah

The US-Israel project is said to be based on elaborate computer models among other calculations and includes the expectation that members of Hezbollah, possibly even Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, will be indicted, tried and convicted, in absentia of course, of involvement in the February 14, 2005 murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

The US State Department Office of the Legal Adviser has proudly assured the White House that because its office insisted back in 2005 that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon be established under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, anyone who the STL convicts will face sure UN justice. Chapter Seven allows for the use of unlimited international armed force to implement any verdict that the STL hands down. Washington and Tel Aviv intend that those convicted will not escape the full power of the United Nations system anymore than others earlier, including former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

Israel, serial violator of international law including more than 60 UN Resolutions is also busy boasting that international law supports the Tribunal and that high priced law firms around the world can be hired if necessary to back up the legal work of the STL office of the Prosecution, led by Daniel Bellemare of Canada.

Within hours of Israel instructing Secretary of State Clinton, not to worry, that there is no way for the STL to be stopped or its final judgment sidetracked and all the US  has to do is fund it, the White House announced an additional $ 10 million for the Tribunal and got the UK to pony up another $ 1.8 million. More cash is expected from France. Today the STL is flush with cash and it will likely remain so.

Based on interviews with two former staff members of the Office of the STL prosecution, as well as numerous public statements by US officials, there are reasons to take seriously the “all the way” intensions of Jeffrey Feltman and Silvan Shalom. Their governments assert the that  STL is legitimate under both international law,  given that it was established in accordance with a U.N. Security Council  resolution issued under Chapter 7, and also under Lebanon’s legal and constitutional principles contrary to what is being claimed by Hezbollah and STL’s adversaries in Lebanon.

In addition, the US State Department points out that the preamble to the Lebanese Constitution provides that “Lebanon is a founding and active member of the United Nations Organization and abides by its covenants and by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Government shall embody these principles in all fields and areas without exception.” Moreover, the Charter of the United Natio ns obliges U.N. member states to “accept and carry out the decisions of the (U.N.) Security Council.”

According to one  State Department lawyer, “If the STL indicts and convicts one member of Hezbollah we win. A driver, a boy scout, we don’t care. The Security Council can do a dozen things to topple Hezbollah. For example, can you imagine the effect of Iranian style sanctions if applied against Lebanon until the killers are handed over? The Lebanese only care about money and with all those sects hating each other anyhow, the country will quickly implode in recriminations and civil war if they’re forced to diet a bit…And very tough sanctions against Syria? The US and Israel will only have to collect the pieces and do what should have been done half a century ago and that was to install governments that understand regional and international realities.”

Efforts by Hezbollah and Syria to derail the STL are viewed in Tel Aviv and Washington as futile, because Lebanon is thought to have nothing to say about the STL. It is created by the UNSC and nothing the Lebanese Parliament, Cabinet or people do will affect it. The only reason Lebanon is in the picture at all is that it is the crime scene. And it happens to harbor some suspects. Apart from that Lebanon is essentially irrelevant to the STL work.

One congressional staffer advised: “What we will use are all the many tools, enforcement and other, available to the international community to bring down Hezbollah. The coming phase need not even look like the US and Israel have much involvement. We will just watch like football spectators from the sideline as the UN employs myriad legal and political measures to bring to justice those found to be involved. That’s the beauty of this and it’s also why Hezbollah is very, worried. Or for sure they should be.”

Another staffer in the same office added in an email: “Don’t you see, the STL is the perfect international law instrument to destroy Hezbollah, achieve regime change in Syria, create deadly Sunni-Shia conflicts everywhere, cause civil a war in Lebanon and topple the Mullahs in Iran. It’s going to be like Cheney never left office.”

Following the  STL indictments, assuming they include Hezbollah, Washington sources expect that the Israel lobby will launch perhaps history’s most massive and expensive international media campaign of defamation against Hezbollah, Syria and Iran and they will be joined by the US government and some of its European allies, plus the ever-rentable Micronesia.

The objective will be to essentially unite the world’s population against the presumed Shia killers of the Sunni Prime Minister. More than a dozen US-Israel projects that failed in Lebanon over the past decade, from an airbase in Kleiat to street battles to cutting optic telecommunication lines may come back into play when stamped with the imprimatur of international law and full UN Security Council legitimacy.

The current project includes continuing the public threats and hyping threats that Israel is ready to attack Lebanon whereas the Pentagon believes Israel is not ready and may never be ready again and is being rejected regionally and internationally.  According to Hezbollah MP Kamel al-Rifai U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, and U.S. Senator John Kerry informed Lebanese officials during their recent visits to Lebanon that Israel is serious in its threats to attack Lebanon and might just attack. Al-Rifai told the daily Asharq al-Awsat on 11/15/10 that Hezbollah was told that the American administration gave Israel the green light to do as it pleases in Lebanon, adding that Kerry sent this message to the Syrian leadership as well.

For these reasons the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is seen as an extraordinary US-Israel opportunity to maintain control of the region. The coming media campaign will employ especially sharp personal attacks on Hassan Nasrallah who the US and Israel fear as an Arab leader in the mold of Nasser and as a Muslim leader without modern parallel. Nasrallah is seen as a leader who has the potential to heal many Shia-Sunni divisions  and for this he is viewed in Washington and Tel Aviv as very dangerous.

Hezbollah’s assessment

On November 11, 2010 Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah discussed the STL at a neighborhood Martyr’s day gathering in South Beirut. Offering his views on the US-Israel project, he told his audience that Hezbollah knows the US-Israel strategy, which he explained is:

Hezbollah’s charasmatic leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah

“Let’s accuse Shiite men of assassinating the most important Sunnite leader and consequently issue an indictment in this regard. We will call on the Lebanese government which had signed an agreement with us to arrest these men. The latter would set to arrest them and dispatch army troops and security forces which would be engaged in a clash with the Resistance.”

Nasrallah continued, “Primarily this is the plot. It is not important for the Americans, the Israelis and the sponsors of the STL what would happen or what might happen in Lebanon. Lebanon in itself is not important, neither is martyr PM Rafiq Hariri, the Sunnites, the Shiites, the Muslims, the Christians, the Future Movement, March 14 Bloc nor March 8 Bloc. What is important is Israel, and Israel’s interest is that the Resistance be hit, eliminated, isolated, besieged, weakened, snatched away from its popular environment and its image be distorted. Its morals, belief and will must be harmed and consequently, it would be ready to be hit or to surrender to this plot.”

Hezbollah MP Nawaf Mousawi, one of the most sought after Hezbollah officials for discussions by visiting American and foreign delegations due to his  intellect and clarity, advised the media a short time later that:

“The Resistance party is prepared for all scenarios,” adding that “nothing would surprise Hezbollah…. Hezbollah has prepared a series of responses.

Every option corresponds to a specific scenario. Thus if things are positive, we’re ready. But if things are negative and the efforts failed in reaching a solution to the crisis, we’re also ready. In brief, we’re ready to face all options,” Mousawi said.


Franklin Lamb is Director, Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Beirut-Washington DC, Board Member of The Sabra Shatila Foundation, and a volunteer with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, Lebanon. He is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon and is doing research in Lebanon for his next book. He can be reached at

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Posted in Middle EastComments Off on LEBANON’S TRIBUNAL AS BLUDGEON



Dear Friends,

The 6 items below begin with “The JNF again foresting the Negev”—the Jewish National Fund, in other words, attempting to Judaize the Negev by planting trees and thereby dispossessing the Bedouins, who have lived there prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, many of whom proved their ‘loyalty’ by voluntarily enlisting in the Israeli military, but who have been treated as 5th class citizens.  The village mentioned in the item, El-Araqib has been demolished 6 times within the period of a month or two, but each time its residents have immediately rebuilt.  And so it continues. Disgusting!


The second item shows one reason that possibly American Jews are thinking twice about immigrating to Israel: the religious nature of Israel, which would appear to be growing.  It is not unlikely that Israel will in the future, should it exist, become a theocracy.  It is well on its way to that now.  Religion and State should always be separate.  When religion becomes political, then it loses its spiritual nature.


The 3rd item is today’s Haaretz Editorial complaining that today the Israeli army is far from being a “people’s army.”  This editorial is a typical case of Israeli love for Israel’s military.  That is to say, it wants to replace the present military with a better model.  The editorial is a perfect example of Israeli militarism, the type of rationalizing, that is, against which New Profile battles.  If Israel’s leaders and media and much of the population would spend as much time on thinking about how to achieve peace and prosperity here as they do on thinking about how to improve their use of force, we would all be living in a much happier and safer place.  Unfortunately, Israelis have not yet heard of Aesop’s fable of the sun’s and the wind’s argument, or if they have heard of it, they have not absorbed its lesson, that not force but making things pleasant can win people over.


Items 4 and 5 are more or less on the same subject—the revelation of a website with the names, rank, addresses, photos of soldiers who presumably participated on the IOF attack on Gaza in December 1908-January 1909, and presumably committed war crimes.  While it is true that by merely participating in that ugly military campaign makes one suspect, it does not make one ipso facto a criminal.  For that to happen there must be a specific charge.  These are lacking, which is one reason that I refused to send you the link to the website with all this information.  So long as we do not know what a specific soldier is being accused of, we cannot make a judgment.  The latest on this is that the company hosting the website has removed it .


Item 6, In Memoriam, R is from Aya, who, together with Tamar operates Mahsanmilim.  I have added– after her story– an In Memoriam that I wrote some years ago.  These are two very different tales, but both cases were impacted on by the occupation.  Some of you have read my In Memoriam, but that was 5 years ago.  Anyhow, it’s there in case it interests you.  A  huge difference between the two is that in Aya’s story the military is directly involved in the killing, in mine probably indirectly,  in a sense.

All the best,



1. The JNF again foresting the Negev


עמוד הביתאודותEnglish

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) supported by the Evangelical is foresting the Negev.  Protest against JNF has spread to BritainThe Regional Planning Committee: First Destroy – and then Discuss AppealI am from the NegevThe Jewish National Fund (JNF) supported by the Evangelical is foresting the Negev

The residence of El-Araqib [El-Araqib has been demolished 6 times the past few months; residents rebuild} and activists of the Negev Coexistence Forum report that the JNF is once more extensively foresting just north of the village of El-Araqib. There is concern that the forestation will once more be extended onto the village lands.


The tractors and heavy machinery have been busy since Sunday. The lands being currently forested belonged to the Alamat Tribe before 1948, and who have since been refugees in Jordan.

It is extremely cynical that the donations are coming from an evangelical ministry named GOD-TV, who claim to have received “instructions from God… to prepare the land for the return of my Son… Plant a million trees.” (See their video on minute 21:00).  So – the JNF, a Jewish organization, that is “redeeming land for the Jewish people”, is now supporting (and being supported by) an evangelical ministry that wishes to utilize Israel and the planting of trees – to bring about the return of Christ. Anything… that will make sure the Bedouin cannot utilize their ancestral lands for agriculture…



The GOD-TV forest is to be the extension of the Ambassadors’ Forest, and continue on until the outskirts of Beer Sheva.

Photos courtesy of the Negev Coexistence Forum.


2. Ynet Friday, November 19, 2010

14:21 , 11.19.10


Who’s a Jew?


Israeli Jews at odds with liberal US brethren

As descendant of famed Zionist visionary, Hillary Rubin made aliyah to what she thought was her true home. Now she has second thoughts after Israel’s religious authorities refuse to recognize her marriage. ‘It’s becoming a tyrannical Jewish state’,7340,L-3977657,00.html


Associated Press


When Hillary Rubin immigrated from the United States to Israel, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and descendant of a famed Zionist visionary felt that she had finally arrived in her true home.


But now that religious authorities are questioning the 29-year-old Michigan native’s Jewish pedigree and refusing to recognize her marriage, she’s having second thoughts. 


Jewish Identity 


Rubin is at the center of a deepening rift between the world’s two biggest Jewish communities – the American and Israeli. Religious life in Israel is dominated by the strict ultra-Orthodox establishment, which has growing political power and has become increasingly resistant to any inroads by the more liberal movements that predominate among American Jews. 


Many Americans – whose faith is seen by the ultra-Orthodox as blurred by intermarriage and fading adherence to tradition – are feeling rejected and unwelcome. 


“I feel like I am caught in the middle of these two worlds,” said Rubin, who was raised in a liberal Jewish home in a Detroit suburb. “On the one hand I’m far too traditional for American society. On the flip side, I am not religious enough for the rabbinate in Israel.”


It’s a far cry from the days when American Jews looked to Israel as a source of pride and inspiration and Israel could rely on America’s Jews as a source of unconditional moral support and fundraising. With ultra-Orthodox Jews the fastest growing sector in Israel, often holding the balance of power in coalition governments, open strains between the communities are now far more common. 


Over the summer, a proposed law that would have consecrated the Orthodox monopoly over conversion in Israel caused an uproar among Diaspora Jews. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to shelve the bill in hopes of finding a compromise. 


Conflict could ‘tear the people apart’

Last week, American and Israeli Jewish leaders held a conference in Jerusalem aiming at ironing out their differences. But the closed-door sessions were tense and all sides stuck to their positions, said one participant, American Rabbi Jerome Epstein, of the Conservative movement. 


He warned that the conflict could “tear the people apart” if no compromise is found. 


“There are a lot of Americans who normally would not get involved in Israeli politics but who are saying, ‘What you are doing is delegitimizing me. It is not enough to want my support and want my money, you have to be willing to recognize me as a human being and as a Jew,’ and they feel that is not happening,” he said. 


The two communities are at odds over everything from religious rituals to gender roles. But the issues of marriage and conversion most concretely raise concern among American Jews that they are judged as not Jewish enough for Israel. 


The more liberal Reform and Conservative movements, which dominate American Jewish life, are more inclusive toward converts and inter-faith marriages. More than half of American Jews marry outside the faith.


Rubin. ‘I feel like I am caught in the middle of these two worlds’ (Photo: AP)


Chelsea Clinton’s marriage last summer to Marc Mezvinsky, who is Jewish, showed just how well assimilated US Jews have become. Many American Jews were quietly proud of their homegrown son, who, in a skullcap and prayer shawl, wed the former First Daughter in a ceremony performed by a Reform rabbi and a Protestant minister. 


But to many in Israel, Mezvinsky seemed to break more than a glass at the wedding. The inter-faith ceremony – held on Shabbat in violation of Jewish law, to boot – encapsulated fears that assimilation is emptying the religion of content and devastating its numbers. 


In Israel, despite its secular majority, ultra-Orthodox rabbis strictly govern Jewish practices such as weddings, burials or conversions and only allow them for those who meet Orthodox definitions of a Jew. Israel grants citizenship to any Jew – Reform, Conservative or Orthodox – but once in Israel, many who consider themselves Jewish cannot get married or have a Jewish burial. 


Rubin’s story shows just how deep the gulf has become.


 When she went to the Orthodox rabbinate to register for a marriage certificate, the authorities wouldn’t accept the documents she produced or the assurances of her American rabbi that she was indeed Jewish, despite her famous lineage. 


The government only recognizes Orthodox marriage and Israel has no civil marriage. So after holding an informal ceremony with a Conservative rabbi, Rubin and her fiancé – who is also Jewish – were forced to officially tie the knot in nearby Cyprus to be recognized as married in Israel. 


“It terrifies me that this is the direction we are going. This is not a democratic Jewish state. It is becoming a tyrannical Jewish state,” said Rubin, whose great-uncle was Nahum Sokolow, one of the pioneers of early 20th century Zionism. 


Seth Farber, an Orthodox rabbi and director of a group that helps Israelis navigate the rabbinical bureaucracy, said the threshold for proving one’s Judaism has risen alongside the rise in ultra-Orthodox power. 


“The biggest danger is that the Israeli body politic will allow the Jewish people to be disenfranchised by giving the ultra-Orthodox all the keys to Jewish identity,” he said. 


The majority of Israelis appear at odds with their religious authorities.


 According to a recent survey conducted for Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, 63% of Israelis believe those converted by non-Orthodox rabbis should be regarded as Jews. The Shiluv pollster questioned a random selection of 507 Israelis and gave a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.


But Moshe Gafni, an ultra-Orthodox lawmaker whose party is a key coalition member in Netanyahu’s government, vows that Israel will not allow what he calls Chelsea Clinton-like weddings and “make-it-up-as-you-go” Judaism.  


“We are not saying that someone who is Reform or Conservative is not Jewish. But they can’t change the order of things here in Israel,” he said. “The average Israeli wants the country to abide by the Jewish tradition … You can’t take the things most sacred to us and tear them to shreds.”



3.  Haaretz Editorial,

November 19, 2010


The IDF, no longer the people’s army, has to change

The army cannot be allowed to fossilize and have difficulty functioning merely because of conceptual rigidity and fear of change.


Haaretz Editorial


David Ben-Gurion’s model of the “people’s army,” on which the Israel Defense Forces was set up, played a central role in shaping Israel’s state and society. The state’s protection was based on compulsory military service, prolonged reserve duty and seeing the army as an integrating agent that brought together people from different countries, from the center and periphery, both rich and poor, secular and religious, Jewish and Druze.


Ben-Gurion believed in the uniform’s power to turn a migrant people into a new, Israeli, Hebrew-speaking nation that would fight for Israel’s survival in a hostile environment.


The model had its limitations and never achieved total equality, but as long as the compulsory service encompassed the overwhelming majority of Israeli youth, the army preserved its central status and benefited from a reserve of combatants and volunteers to the career army and elite units.


In recent years, following demographic changes, the rise in the ultra-Orthodox community’s power, dwindling immigration and shifts in social priorities, the army has found it difficult to keep the ethos of comprehensive service and equality.


These changes are making it hard for the army to fulfill its goals and is showing the people’s army ethos as a fiction. On Wednesday, Anshel Pfeffer reported in Haaretz that the IDF was freezing the quotas of draft postponements for fear of falling short of combatants (though the decision was later reversed ). The army’s original move to block volunteers for social service – most of whom eventually join combat units and take up command posts when they enlist – should serve as a wake up call to the defense establishment and state leadership.


It is time for a penetrating debate on the IDF service structure. Ben-Gurion’s old model must be adjusted to narrow down the growing gap between conscripts and draft evaders and between soldiers in combat and service roles.


We must not give up the value of military service, but we should consider giving those who serve a more fair reward and expanding enlistment options for parts of the public that avoid it.


Israel needs a high quality army. The army cannot be allowed to fossilize and have difficulty functioning merely because of conceptual rigidity and fear of change.


4.  ikun Olam-תקון עולם: Make the World a Better PlaceEssays on politics, culture and ideas about Israeli-Arab peace and world musicTwo birds


Correction: Lt. Col. who covered up possible war crimes–Yehuda HaCohen


CORRECTION: On closer examination of sources it appears that Lt. Col. Aliyan left his position as Rotem commander in May 2008, six months before Operation Cast Lead. Therefore, he is not the Rotem commander who suppressed the death report in the following post. My apologies for not vetting the source more carefully. But thanks to two other Israeli sources we’re all convinced that we now have the right guy.


Lt. Col. Yehuda HaCohen, Rotem battalion commander, covered up possible Gaza war crime (Yehoshua Yosef)

In what is likely the first use of the IDF Dirty 200 list for further investigation and analysis of specific potential war crimes incidents already known, an Israeli reader has done some excellent forensic research, connecting dots between Israeli media reports and the list to expose the previously unknown identity of a senior Israeli commander accused of covering up a military investigation of the killing of a Gaza woman during Cast Lead.


As is the Israeli media custom, they refuse to identity by name soldiers accused of crimes.  They will usually use an initial to name someone.  But in this particular case, they didn’t even do that.  Here’s what happened:


During Cast Lead some 30 members of the Abu Hajjaj family, bearing white flags approached an outpost of the Rotem battalion (a unit within the Givati brigade, which was one of the main units that served during Cast Lead) after being ordered by another IDF unit to evacuate their homes.  Soldiers fired “warning shots,” which somehow managed to kill two of the group, Majeda Abu Hajjaj (35), and Raya Abu Hajjaj (65).   A surviving family member and witness said this about the killings:


Salah Abu Hajjaj…was among the targeted group: “My mother was shot and injured. The bullet went through her arm and into her chest. After 15 meters my mother fell down. Majeda, was also shot. She died immediately.” Salah’s mother and sister were the only two individuals killed in the incident.


Somehow in the immediate aftermath of the incident the IDF managed to claim that not two women, but a man was killed.  As a result of the supposed confusion investigators decided they couldn’t clarify what really happened and refused to pursue the matter farther.


In a subsequent investigation, Staff Sergeant S., accused of killing the women, claimed he shot only at their legs when he deemed this group of composed largely of  women and which was totally unarmed was a “threat” to his comrades.  Somehow he managed to shoot the women in the chest instead.


A battalion-level report was written on the incident but it was suppressed and never filed with the proper authorities…until two months later, a reserve officer received a laptop on which he found the report titled, “Normative Incident–killing of innocent civilian during Operation Cast Lead.” The officer deliberated for eight months what he should do with the report.  Finally, he decided to take the matter up the chain of command and wrote letters to the Givati Brigade senior command, the IDF southern command, and the IDF military prosecutor.


As a result, a complaint was filed against Staff Sergeant S. in the killing this past June.  Alongside this, the IDF launched an investigation into the cover-up of the original incident and the burying of the report. Neither the Haaretz report or any other Israeli source has named the senior officer being investigated.  But a close examination of the Dirty 200 List clearly indicates he is number 174 on the hit parade, Lt. Col. Yehuda HaCohen, Givati 453 Rotem commander. Now, it becomes more difficult for the IDF to sweep Lt. Col. HaCohen’s misdeeds under the rug.  Let it be a lesson to all other commanders when soldiers under their command kill a Palestinian in cold blood that there will no longer be impunity.


HaCohen is 35, married and the father of two children.  One wonders whether he thought of either of them at all when he buried that file in his laptop which concealed the cold blooded murder of a Gaza mother and daughter, whether he thought: that could’ve been my wife and daughter.  Foolish me.  Of course, he didn’t think of that.


Here are some words of wisdom from our proud warrior published in Bibiton (where else?) which should tell you a lot about why he would cover up the killing of a few white-flag waving Gaza ‘terrorists:’


HaCohen moves from a faith in the righteousness of Israel’s path as reflected in its policies and military action, to a strong human sense of the tragedy caused by war.  He doesn’t hesitate using the slogans of Zionism and appears to be someone who believes in them.


He completed tens of operations in Gaza and speaks of the place almost romantically.”There isn’t any place in Gaza I haven’t been.  The best times for me are those when I am on the border [with Gaza].  The times that are even better are those when I cross the border [and enter Gaza].  It’s something that’s hard to explain.  As someone who spent years in Gaza, HaCohen felt the Operation [Cast Lead] approaching.  ”It was clear that this was about to happen.”


Before they left on their first mission, HaCohen exhorted his soldiers, telling them they would complete it at all costs, even if there were wounded or dead.  ”We wouldn’t stop till we had conquered our objectives.  In recent years in our nation, we have allowed ourselves to become confused as we count the dead,” he says critcizing the level of psychological prepardedness of Israeli society.  ”The key measure in war is not the number of dead.  That’s a price that we have to grapple with.  The people of Israel have to learn the lessons of history and understand that if we don’t defend ourselves through war–we will pay.


HaCohen has reveals no signs of regret or second thoughts about the conduct of the war. “The IDF doesn’t have to apologize.  We have the most advanced technology and therefore we are strong.  The other side decided practically not to resist because we came in such strength.  Where there was resistance it was was quickly ended and they paid a very high price.”


Regarding the claim that disproportionate force was used, he dismisses the notion out of hand.  ”I don’t know what this means: using disproportionate force.  You must understand mentally that you are facing a threat and that you will not lose.  At any cost.  You must respond aggressively so that the other side will not succeed in doing what he wants.  It’s very hard to to create a situation in which no civilians will be harmed and in the course of the Operation, to my regret, they were [gee, d’ya think?].”


HaCohen points a finger of blame at the enemy.  ”I greatly criticize Hamas for fighting behind the disguise of [civilians], and the one who should criticize this is the Palestinian people.  They should decide whether they are prepared to be human shields and, if so, they make things difficult for us.  Nevertheless, we know how to deal with this [indeed you do].”


His greatest criticism he reserves for our “friends” in the outside world.  He blithely dismisses the claims found in the Goldstone Report about war crimes.  ”I don’t think we have to get excited about this Report so that we don’t feel we can explain why we protected our own citizens.  It’s not a question of morality [!].  There is a conflict between two peoples, one of which kidnaps soldiers and fires on civilians [!!!!].   This is war and civilians are harmed in it.  On our side too civilians were harmed.  Goldstone has to understand that we evacuated Gaza so they could lead their own lives.  The ball is in their court.”


“I think other countries should examine themselves first [before blaming us].  The British should reflect on what they did in Ireland and Afghanistan.  And the Americans should reflect on the nature preserves they built for the Indians.”


HaCohen also criticizes the effort to detain Israeli officers abroad: “If they believe in London there are senior IDF officers who are war criminals I wouldn’t want to visit there [little likelihood of that now, I’d say].  There are other nice places.  At the end, the only test we have to pass is the mirror test.  I can look in the mirror and say that I am at peace with what I did.  Everything was done according to the spirit of the IDF and for a higher purpose–to return quiet to the South.”


All I can say in HaCohen’s defense is that he didn’t pull the trigger in this case.  His subordinate did.  But if he can look himself in the mirror after covering up such wanton killing and still be at peace, then maybe someone in the IDF or the attorney general’s office has to step in and tell him that they don’t like what they see in the mirror: the image of an officer covering up a war crime.


Haaretz also exposes HaCohen’s identity though it does not disclose how it put two and two together.  Given the timing, it had to be through the Dirty 200 list.  The fact that Haaretz appears unwilling to admit that it at least in part may’ve used the list to confirm the officer’s identity is hypocritical.  They’re afraid of being linked to a list which many Israelis hate, but not so afraid as to refuse to exploit the list’s existence and what it contains.



Related posts:


1.IDF Officer Accused of Manslaughter in Cast Lead


5.  Haaretz,

November 19, 2010


The Internet, Facebook are placing IDF soldiers in the crossfire

An online list of Israeli military personnel who took part in Gaza fighting is putting regular Israeli conscripts under threat of global arrest and harassment.


By Amos Harel


Almost two years after Operation Cast Lead, the Gaza Strip continues to haunt the Israel Defense Forces. An American or European website, with the likely aid of Israelis, hit the IDF’s underbelly on Thursday after releasing a list of “war criminals,” soldiers and officers who took part in the Gaza war. On the home front, meanwhile, the trial of a soldier from the Givati Brigade, charged with the most serious allegations thus far, kicked off with a media flurry as the defense uncovered what they claimed was an attempt to cover up the affair.


Attempts by left-leaning groups, both in Israel and abroad, to list those commanders who took part in the Gaza fighting began as soon as the Gaza war ended. But the list published on Thursday, which included 200 names in both English and Hebrew, is a project on an entirely different scale. Apart from the names one would expect to see on such a list (the IDF chief, his incoming successor, the head of military intelligence, the Israel Air Force chief, and others) the register also included battalion commanders, company commanders, platoon commanders, and even conscripted soldiers.


Photographs were also attached to many of the names, as well as the soldiers’ ID numbers and even updated home addresses.


The senior officers who oversaw the operation are already used to threats and irritations. Many of them avoid travelling to countries such as England or Belgium, where legal actions have been weighed against IDF officers since the Gaza war ended. From now on, however, European travel may entail some risk even to a young platoon commander from the Paratroopers Brigade, who may have in the meantime been released from the IDF and was considering studying abroad. Beyond the threat of arrest, a publication of this nature may trigger some very unpleasant responses with which Israelis may have to contend.


Anyone who was surprised to find his name on the list on Thursday could have a shot at a libel suit against the site, considering that the information will most likely not be taken off the Internet.


Who’s responsible for the publication? While the list is riddled with inaccuracies, such as the inclusion of soldiers who never participated in the Gaza fighting, it remains clear that Israelis – maybe even soldiers – were part of the long-time effort to gather meticulous details concerning those listed.


Some of the data (birthdates, places of residence, certainly of those higher up in the command) is not information that is readily available to the public. Considerable proficiency is in play here: even the names of those who replaced wounded battalion commanders during the war are named.


The IDF was visibly embarrassed as a result of the publication. Head of the IDF’s personnel directorate, Maj. Gen. Avi Zamir vowed to “support soldiers and officers” whose names appear on the list, but the situation probably calls for something more, perhaps even an investigation into whether soldiers aided the list’s compilers.


As a side note, it is interesting to note that technology and the Internet have again worked to the detriment of the security forces, as was the case earlier this year with the assassination of Hamas’ Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, which local police has blaming on the Mossad. In the case at hand, ordinary soldiers have left digital footprints (Facebook pages, blog entries, photographs, media appearances) which allowed allegations to be hurled against them. Members of the Givati and Paratroopers brigades, who were interviewed more frequently during Operation Cast Lead – or are more active on Facebook – have a much larger stake in the list, compared with other units.


Back at the home front, the trial of Givati’s sergeant S., accused of killing a Palestinian in Gaza, has opened with a bang when it was revealed how the whole affair came to light. Apparently, a document had found its way to a reserves officer who, after a long deliberation, reported it to IDF prosecutors. The document was an internal probe by battalion commander Yehuda Cohen. An investigation is now ongoing to try and find out if there was a deliberate attempt to silence the affair by keeping it in the unit.


The trial represents yet another sensitive affair that Givati has experienced recently, with three other brigade soldiers facing criminal trials and a brigade commander still being investigated in a separate case. During the first Intifada, over twenty years ago, the Givati A and Givati B trials opened a painful wound regarding the IDF’s conduct in Gaza. It seems history is repeating itself, albeit differently, following the latest round of fighting.


6.  In Memoriam R.


He was nineteen then, and had just begun work in the Palestinian police force, and was terribly proud. And I wondered why guys just love uniforms and guns so much, and was also a bit saddened because I wanted at least the victims – even just because they are victims of gun-bearing uniform-wearers – to be different, but I was also glad for him that he finally had a job and congratulated him, and meant it.


At that time Qalandiya Checkpoint was filthier than it is now, and less built-up, and there were no loudspeakers or clearly demarcated tracks or fences and green and red lights that go on and off intermittently, and the Israeli soldiers were not behind reinforced glass windows. And although, just as they do now, orders were arbitrary and kept changing as a rule so that one would not be able to get used to anything, even to things getting worse, still one could say in hindsight that as they were, they were better back then even though at the time it didn’t seem things could get any worse than they were. Perhaps because there was more laughter and because the improvised and neglected nature of the checkpoint held some illusion that it was not meant to stay there forever.


And first and foremost, of course, because back then Palestinians could at least theoretically sometimes get across the checkpoint, even at the price of being humiliated, and not just the Jerusalemites among them. Differently from the present, now that no one except Jerusalem residents can get through, except those whose “right” the Security Services have cleared and approved. And even they are treated by the soldiers like cattle, screamed at and scolded while this or the other track is closed so that the victims can scurry from to and fro like animals in a cage, because for the various Occupation forces a Palestinian is after all a Palestinian, regardless of the color of his ID, of his identity.


Because it just could not be any different. Because all of these soldiers have already crossed a moral line by the mere fact that they are standing there at the checkpoint, obeying and maintaining and carrying out racist apartheid laws, and all the rest of their harassment is just an extension of the inherent. Otherwise, they would simply not be there.


I used to go to Qalandiya Checkpoint back then, just as I go there nowadays, with the ease of those who are over-privileged there and anywhere else between the (Jordan) river and the (Mediterranean) sea, namely anyone not Palestinian, be their origin what it may.

I like going there also because of the people I have gotten to know over the years and am happy to meet.

As well as to see and know and then tell about it outside. Tell about it – also – to people who do not want to know and to hear.

Because of my inherent over-privilege I have an obligation, or so I feel at least.

Anyway, back then, in those days when it seemed that nothing could be worse,

I met him, R.


R.’s house was in A-Ram where he lived with his parents and younger brothers and sisters, but his work in the Palestinian police was in Ramallah and he had to cross the checkpoint on his way home. A checkpoint located between one part of his life and the other. And there was that day when he was waiting in line and we were chatting and laughing, because the line was long and he was young and optimistic and without hate, only wondering why they were like that, those soldiers his age, with whom he so very much wanted to make friends, and whom he forgave, and again and again he recoiled from their tough faces, yelling ‘get back!’ or ‘go away!’, or some other checkpoint words which were the only words they could utter in Arabic, except – of course – for ‘hand over your ID’ and ‘the checkpoint is closed!’, words they were taught, I think, just as they were taught to fire a rifle, and all the other things that soldiers are taught.


Anyway, at some point I must have walked elsewhere, while he was still standing in line, and didn’t notice what was going on with him. And then I suddenly saw him walking back, away from the checkpoint, his face fallen, and he said: “I wasn’t allowed through”. I asked, “Why not?” Not because there is any reason, no way is there a reason with any measure of justice or logic, for there is no logical or just reason to cut people’s lives in half and condition their passage from one part to another.

And also because the lack of reason – even in the sense of the Occupation – is an end in itself, just as the words on the plaque at the headquarters of the former head of the civil administration, Ilan Paz, said it, the motto for his soldiers: “The Palestinians must be held in a state of constant uncertainty”.

So, not that I thought there was any reason in the world that could justify why R. is not allowed to go home to the other side of the checkpoint at the end of a workday. But I asked, in order to say something, In order to hear what they had chosen to tell him.

“The soldier said that only people working in the Palestinian police are allowed to pass, and I told him I am in the Palestinian police, and he didn’t believe me”, he said, disappointed. And I didn’t say anything, for there is nothing to say, and after a few moments more we parted ways. And he didn’t look too depressed. Because this was so usual. And had happened so many times. And I knew that he would proceed through the quarry. Or at least try. Because he had to get back home somehow, after all.

And the wall was not yet built back then, and although it was dangerous, it was rather easy to try and get through, and I was hoping that he’d be lucky and no soldiers would be there waiting to catch the dozens of rejects who the soldiers knew would try to get through there, because they had no choice, because their home was on the other side of the checkpoint.


And so several days went by and every now and then I wondered whether he had managed to get through, and I wasn’t too worried, because he was nineteen, and even if he hadn’t managed, he had family in Ramallah and could sleep over.


And then that Wednesday. I remember it was a Wednesday although it’s been a few years since then, perhaps because everything that day was etched, singed and hard.

I was at Qalandiya Checkpoint again and from afar I noticed R. who waved at me, and was also waving something that looked like a sheet of paper, and he ran towards me, and I saw he was in a good mood and I smiled. He reached me, asked how I was, and said “look”, and was beaming, because he had a printed certificate confirming that he was a member of the Palestinian police. With his picture. A handsome nineteen-year old, smiling.

Because he is young, and he is in the police force, and that’s something to be proud of.

And because, so he thought, now he could get through without any trouble.

And I already had this gut feeling and I cringed but said nothing. And we talked on a bit, and then R. stood in line. And I got closer. Maybe I foresaw what actually did take place. It took a long time, it always does, and finally he got to the head of the line, and handed the soldier his certificate confirming that he belongs to the Palestine police, smiling to the soldier, to the Jewish youngster his age whom he didn’t hate, because he is young and in uniform like him, and he understands him, or so it seemed.

The soldier looked amazed at the certificate that R. handed him. With a look of slight disgust that turned into light derision he said flatly, “get back”. And R. didn’t move, he just couldn’t believe it. And then the nineteen-year old Jewish youngster with his uniform and rifle raised his voice and said, “Get back, I told you. Get back”.

And I saw R. cave in at once, like a tower of cards collapsing, turned around and left, bent over in spite of his youth, walking slowly, his eyes quenched, turned in and lost. He passed by me without seeing me, and I said to him, “R.”, and he stopped, looked up at me with his beautiful soft eyes, under his thick lashes. Right at that heartrending point between the final moment of childhood and the start of adulthood, in this captivating wordlessness, and didn’t say a thing, nor did I, because everything was obvious.


After all when the soldier had told him before – that same soldier who now drove him away, or perhaps it was another – that only Palestinian police gets through, in all likelihood he had made up that instruction on the spot just to drive the fellow away, to humiliate him, and maybe there was such an instruction, indeed, and even if it was issued officially, the point was the same: to be arbitrary and detached and confusing, and leave the Palestinians in a state of constant uncertainty as that senior commander had once put it, and could have been that order as well as any other.


And I knew again that he would probably be able to get through to A-Ram, but I also saw, even though I didn’t want to see it, that something momentous had happened.

Something momentous had happened in the life of young R.

Not because there was anything exceptional in this event, the likes of which had already happened before. But I saw that for him this event suddenly marked everything anew.


There are such moments.


For all of us. Moments when even if that which happens is just like whatever happened often before, still something happens as a result which is different. Just as this small instance, the extra one, in spite of its resemblance to others before, suddenly signifies and defines everything anew.

In love, there’s that moment in which nothing happened that hadn’t happened before, but after it suddenly you’re no longer placed softly in the eyes of the beloved, and that’s that. And like other crossroads in life where there is that moment when suddenly the system can no longer contain something although it could before, and the irreversible happens, the point of no return is crossed.

And this is what happened to R. that day, I saw it.


I never saw him again after that.

Occasionally I thought about him. And then I didn’t and I wasn’t really worried. Or I didn’t want to worry. And sometimes I worried. And the years passed, and my memory of him got swallowed up in the whirl of others, and at some point I stopped thinking about him altogether.


Then a few weeks ago while I was at the Qalandiya Checkpoint and just began to walk towards the refugee camp because I had made a date to see a friend of mine there, I suddenly noticed a young man and thought to myself, Wow, that’s R.! and I was so glad, and wanted to run to him, and then I thought it actually couldn’t be R. because R. must be older than this fellow now, who looks just like R. did back then. Or maybe it’s his brother, I thought, and again I was glad because I meant to ask him about R. whose memory flooded me again, and as I took a while to deliberate whether to ask or not, and whether this could be R.’s brother or not, the young man vanished.


At home that evening I got online and looked for R.’s name which I don’t fully mention here on purpose, even though now perhaps it’s possible.

I read that Israeli undercover agents went into a cafe in Ramallah a few years ago and murdered a wanted man who had been on the list for three years. I also read that Israel had announced that he’d belonged to a terrorist ring that meant to blow itself up in Jerusalem, and that this wanted man was R.


The first – or nearly first – thing I thought was that I don’t believe them. Israel’s spokesmen. I don’t believe he wanted to blow himself up and kill and die. Because it’s R. And because they distort everything. And because what they say always serves the system, usually warped and false and purposeful, and it simply cannot be, and that’s that.

But I also knew that whether Israel sent its skilled murderers to a cafe in Ramallah to shoot an occasional Palestinian, free game that happened to be R., or because they claim he was about to go blow himself up in Jerusalem and murder others who hadn’t necessarily done him any harm, just because they happen to bear the same identity as others that had harmed him, it’s not true that what they are saying is impossible.


And then I thought again. God. He’s dead. He was alive and now he’s dead. R. is dead. And I recalled his beaming, proud, happy young face.

And I also tried to recall the faces of those soldiers back then, the guy who told R. that only the Palestinian police gets through that day, only to humiliate him or because of blind obedience to cruel arbitrary orders which he naturally followed, or the one who told him, after seeing his police service certificate, ‘get back’, and I couldn’t recall them. Nor was I sure whether these were two different soldiers or the same one.


And all I want is to drip into the past, and peel away time, and tell that young Israeli soldier, the guy with his gear and gun and insolent smile, who today is already in his mid-twenties, it’s your fault.


Not the Occupation, not the State, not your parents who raised you to want and desire and go and be proud of that wrong thing, joining the army, no matter what the army does, as if this were the nature of things.

You are to blame for R.’s death.

You, the soldier whose name I don’t know, whose looks I cannot recall, you are the guilty one.

You are to blame for R. having lived the way he did, he and his family, trampled and caged and humiliated and deprived of human rights. You are to blame for the fact that at one certain moment something in his life had been cut and split, subsequent to which he died. Because of you. Murdered by the likes of you. And you are to blame for the possible death of those he may have intended to murder, and had he murdered them, they too would have been murdered by you.

You, the soldier from back then, you and only you are to blame.


But I know that even if by mere chance that soldier would read my words, he would probably not even remember or realize that he was the one.

He wouldn’t remember that he was the soldier who had once told one Palestinian that ‘today only Palestinian police get through the checkpoint’, or said ‘get back’ some days later, because what he did was so very routine and normal and unexceptional, and that was what he had been sent to do there.

To harass.

Just like everyone else.


Aya Kaniuk. Translated by Tal Haran 






Wafa: January 1.1974-October 11, 2005

In Memoriam

I first learned of Wafa in January 2004 when Abed, her brother-in-law, phoned to ask if I could drive Wafa or arrange for someone else to for 6 weeks, 5 days a week, to receive radiation therapy at Assuta, a hospital in Tel Aviv.   I don’t remember my response, but it probably was that I would try. He asked if the family would have to pay.  I responded, “No.”

It was incredibly easy to find drivers for Wafa.  One email request produced about 30 people willing to help, some of whom lived too far away for the effort to be practicable.  About 25 remained, .  Enough to carry out the task.  Wafa did not miss a day.  Five days a week for six weeks, she was met at the entrance to her village, Kief el-Hares, a Palestinian village in the West Bank, just across the road from the settlement of Ariel.  The round trip could take from 3-5 hours, depending on the weather and the wait at the hospital.

The first day, I chose to drive her, so as to report back to the others in case of unexpected hitches. There were none that day.  But there was bad news.  Wafa had had chemotherapy in Jordan, two series of treatments, apparently, during the preceding two years.  On this my first day with her, following the radiation treatment, the technician told me that during her many years of experience, she had never seen so bad a case as Wafa, who had no chance to survive; the radiation could only reduce her pain, not prolong her life.  Some months later, a doctor told me that Wafa was suffering from a particularly aggressive form of cancer, eating her life away.

This was not my first experience with cancer.  My mother (among others in my family) died of it at the age of 66.  I spent the last 3 months of her life with her in the hospital caring for her.

But that was in the US.  Caring for her did not require my running after permits for mom and for family members to visit her; being with her did not involve being told when requesting permits that she was ‘prohibited,’ i.e. was not allowed into Israel.  I did not have to battle the powers to get a permit for other family members to accompany us, e.g., a doctor brother in case she fainted or vomited or just needed a hand to hold on to.  It was also important for Wafa’s doctor brother to come to speak to the oncologist to know how to follow up treatment.  Had things been ‘normal,’ her brother would have come as a matter of course, not as a matter of the General Security Service (shabak) permission.

My mother wanted desperately to live.  So did Wafa, at half my mom’s age.  But mom was surrounded by loving family and friends.  Wafa was isolated.  She had to depend on Israelis.  True, I usually managed to convince the people in charge of handing out permits to give one to her mother (in her 60s), and also, as I said, to her doctor brother.  One of the two usually accompanied her, along with the Israeli volunteer driver.

It might sound wonderful, so humanitarian, that many Israelis volunteered to drive Wafa and to help her. 

But it is not at all wonderful.  Had there been no occupation, her brothers could have driven her.  Had there been no occupation, she’d not have needed permits.  Had there been no occupation—–but there was and is.  So Wafa had to depend on us, even though I’m sure that she would have preferred to have her illness remain a quiet family affair.  I became very close to her and her family over the nearly 2 years that I accompanied her, and I care very deeply for her, and it was reciprocal.  But not even the best friend can replace family.

After the initial 6 weeks of radiation treatment ended, there was a month or two that I heard nothing.  Then Abed again phoned.  Wafa was suffering terribly.  Her pain was unbearable. 

This began another period of examinations and treatments for Wafa, now at a second hospital in Tel Aviv, and under the careful eye of an oncologist.  The Palestinian Authority paid for her care.  I accompanied her to most of the hospital visits.  On those few occasions when I couldn’t, there was always another Israeli who offered to replace me.  Tagrit came several times to translate, since not all the doctors knew Arabic, and neither did I.  Wafa never lacked for the little help that we could give her.

But had hospitals in the Occupied Palestinian Territories been adequate, she could have gone to one in Nablus, which is about ½ an hour from her village, if one did not have the checkpoint at Huara. But the checkpoint exists and can prolong the trip by hours.  And the hospital in Nablus is not adequate, at least not for her kind of cancer.  This, too, results from the Occupation rather than from lack of talent.  Palestinians are no less capable than are Israelis, if given a chance, and if allowed to have proper equipment.

Finally, after 2-3 months of examinations and treatment (including another round of radiation therapy), the head of the hospital ward (in Israel) in which Wafa had spent a night informed me that there was absolutely nothing more that anyone could do for her except to keep her as painless as possible.

From then, I tried to visit Wafa once a week, or at least once every two weeks. And even managed to fulfill a request, i.e. to take her on a visit. About 2 months ago Wafa asked me to take her to visit Amina, Lina’s mother, with whom Wafa had gone to school.  Wafa’s doctor brother, Husam, drove us.  It was an enormously hot day, but Wafa dressed in style.  She was too weak to stay for more than an hour.  Yet her effort was not pathetic.  The visit satisfied a need she had, and I was glad that we could do that.  My mother had had a like longing a few weeks before she died.  She wanted to go shopping.  Even though her legs could barely hold her thin body, we went.  I could not give her life, but could at least fulfill that yearning in her.

The final month of her life, Wafa suffered badly.  She died in the hospital in Nablus on the morning of October 11.  She would have been 32 years old on January first, 2006.

Today was the first opportunity I had to visit the family. When Israel (my spouse) and I arrived this afternoon, the family was picking olives, but was almost done for the day. Wafa’s brother came to pick us up, and to take us to the trees.  There, Wafa’s mother and I hugged long and hard and cried together.  After sitting for awhile, I suggested we continue with the olive picking.  It was easier than just thinking.  All that remained for the day was to gather the olives that had fallen from the tree or the canvas on to the ground.  Afterwards we returned home and sat on the porch for a time. 

Wafa’s parents sleep downstairs in her brother’s apartment, unable yet to face the rooms where Wafa once lived.  Her mother is in great emotional anguish. On our way back to our car (which we can’t drive into the village because of the road block), we learned from a neighbor that this was not Wafa’s mother’s first loss.  Israeli soldiers shot and killed her17 year old son in the village several years ago. That devastated her and almost ended her life.  And now, on top of that, Wafa.  How many children can a mother bury and remain sane?

I don’t know if the occupation killed Wafa.  Had she had better medical care from the beginning, might she have lived?  Perhaps not.  But we will never know.  Nor will we ever know how many thousands of Palestinians die because of insufficient medical care.  They are the silent witnesses of human inhumanity to humans.  Noone can bring them or Wafa back.  But we can continue to work hard to end the occupation, so that others do not suffer a like cruel fate.





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Israel says in talks on more F-35 fighter jets


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Israel is in talks with the United States to acquire an additional 20 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets, a senior Israeli defense official said on Wednesday.

Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi said Israel would welcome another 20 fighter jets on the heels of a deal signed in October to buy about 20 of the radar-evading jets at a cost of about $96 million per aircraft.

“As I understand — and that’s the latest information I have on this issue — it’s still under negotiation between the Israeli government and the administration,” he said, speaking at a news conference alongside Admiral Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer.

“I don’t know the final decision,” Ashkenazi said.

Some media had reported the Obama administration offered the additional jets to Israel in exchange for a three-month freeze on construction of new settlements, a key issue in efforts to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Israel signaled on Tuesday it had delayed approving U.S. proposals for a freeze on West Bank settlement building so that peace talks can resume, saying it wanted the ideas in writing.

Israeli sources said the proposals, made verbally during a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York last week, included an F-35 offer worth $3 billion and pledges of enhanced U.S. diplomatic support at the United Nations.

Israel has said the first batch of jets, to be received from 2015 through 2017, would boost the country’s ability to defend itself against any Middle Eastern threat.

‘I saw Ariel Sharon murder 2 Palestinian toddlers in Lebanon’

Israel officials call report by Dutch director George Sluizer a ‘modern blood libel’ after he director claimed to have seen then Defense Minster shooting children from close range near the Sabra-Shatilla refugee camp in 1982.

Dutch media this month published articles accusing Ariel Sharon of murdering Palestinian children in Lebanon. Former officials who worked with Sharon said the publications were false. The Israeli foreign ministry called the claim “a modern blood libel.”

George Sluizer George Sluizer in Beirut, 1977.
Photo by: Courtesy of George Sluizer.


The claim first appeared in the Volkskrant, the third largest paper in the Netherlands, in an interview with the well-known Dutch-Jewish director George Sluizer. According to Sluizer, 78, he witnessed Sharon killing two Palestinian toddlers with a pistol in 1982 near the refugee camp Sabra-Shatilla while filming a documentary there.

“I met Sharon and saw him kill two children before my eyes,” said Sluizer, who lives in Amsterdam. Sluizer has made several documentaries about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but is best known for directing The Vanishing with Jeff Bridges and Kiefer Sutherland in 1992.

Sluizer repeated the accusation in an interview for Vrij Nederland, an intellectual magazine, published on November 13 ahead of a screening of his film at the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. “Sharon shot two children like you shoot rabbits, in front of my eyes,” he said.

The children, according to Sluizer, “were toddlers, two or three years old. He shot them from a distance of 10 meters with a pistol that he carried. I was very close to him.” Sluizer added he thought this happened in November, when Sharon was Israel’s minister of defense, but he was not sure of the month.

His account was published in a special Volkskrant supplement for the film festival, which opened on Wednesday. The festival featured Sluizer’s fourth and most recent film about Israel, in which he is filmed telling a Sharon effigy that he wished Sharon would have died at Auschwitz.

Sharon’s successor as defense minister, Moshe Arens, said Sluizer’s account was “a lie.” According to Arens, “Sharon would never shoot a child and he was not in Lebanon in November of 1982. Thirdly, protocol prohibits ministers from wearing weapons. As civilians they are not allowed to carry firearms.”
Amram Mitzna, former chairman of the Israeli Labor Party who served under Sharon as head of the Syrian front during the First Lebanon War, called Sluizer’s account “total nonsense.” Mitzna added: “I attacked Sharon politically over his decisions, but Sharon would never do a thing like that. It’s completely ridiculous.”

Yossef Levy, senior spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called Sluizer’s account a “crude and disgraceful lie. It is hard to believe that any reasonable person would take seriously this kind of modern blood libel, which is not supported by a single shred of evidence.”

In an interview for Haaretz, Sluizer said his cameraman Fred van Kuyk, who died a few years ago, also witnessed the shooting. Sluizer also said he had personally filed two complaints against Sharon in 1983, with the International Court of Justice in the Hague and the European Court of Human Right in Strasbourg.

Mr. Andrey Poskakukhin, head of the ICJ’s information department, said the court had no registration of a complaint by Sluizer. An administrator for the court in Strasbourg said his institution had no record of such a complaint either.

“Any serious newspaper should be very careful in accusing a man who cannot defend himself of committing cold-blooded murder,” said Ronny Naftaniel, director of the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel. He has written to Volkskrant’s editor-in-chief to ask if the paper had tried to corroborate Sluizer’s account before publication.

“Both papers seem to have published Sluizer’s account without fact-checking it,” Naftaniel also said. “It seems media tend to believe everything negative about Israel, not bothering to even check with their correspondents. In so doing, they are lending themselves to an anti-Israel witch hunt.”

Mischa Cohen, who interviewed Sluizer for Vrij Nederland, said he had “tried to corroborate Sluizer’s account” to the best of his ability. “There were some inconsistencies, but the article is mostly about Sluizer’s anger” in relations to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

“By the time my complaints arrived at their destination and should have been processed, minister of defense Sharon had become prime minister and therefore he was free of prosecution,” Sluizer said. Sharon became prime minister in 2001, 18 years after Sluizer said he filed his complaints. Sluizer says he never received a reply from either institution.

“I was busy doing other things then, finishing filming and traveling the Soviet Union and other countries,” Sluizer said when asked why he had not pursued the matter. He added he began thinking more about the shooting after surviving a near-fatal aneurism in 2007.

Jonathan Pollard

Congressional letter urges Obama to release Pollard

Letter signed by 39 Democrats says Pollard “has served a sufficient time from standpoint of either punishment or deterrence.
A congressional letter to President Obama urging clemency for Jonathan Pollard garnered 39 signatures, all Democrats.

In comments at a press conference late Thursday, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said he initiated the letter, written in coordination with a broad array of Jewish groups, mostly out of humanitarian concerns for the convicted Israeli spy, imprisoned 25 years, but also as a spur in the peace process.

“My own hope is that if the president were to do this it would contribute to the political climate within the democracy of Israel to enhance the peace process,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in the past said that releasing Pollard would help secure support for concessions in peace talks with the Palestinians.

The letter’s emphasis is on what it says is the disproportionate length of Pollard’s sentence.

“We believe that there has been a great disparity from the standpoint of justice between the amount of time Mr. Pollard has served and the time that has been served – or not served at all – by many others who were found guilty of similar activity on behalf of nations that, like Israel, are not adversarial to us,” it says. “It is indisputable in our view that the nearly twenty-five years that Mr. Pollard has served stands as a sufficient time from the standpoint of either punishment or deterrence.”

It also emphasizes that Pollard is guilty. “Such an exercise of the clemency power would not in any way imply doubt about his guilt, nor cast any aspersions on the process by which he was convicted,” it says.

Frank said he tried hard to solicit Republican signatories, but was turned down even by the most sympathetic GOP lawmakers for fear of political blowback from the Republican base.

“The current nature of the Republican party is that this is not the thing to do,” he said.

Frank did not elaborate but Jewish officials speaking off the record confirmed his efforts and said that national security sensibilities among some Republican officials have hindered efforts to garner support.

David Nyer, a grassroots Jewish activist who helped organize the effort, said the letter had the support of Gary Bauer, a Christian evangelist leader and onetime vier for the Republican presidential candidacy.

Among the Jewish groups backing the effort were the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organzations, National Council of Young Israel, B’nai B’rith International, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Zionist Organization of America, Agudath Israel of America and the Rabbinic Council of America.

Also supporting the effort were several Reagan administration officials who were at the center of Pollard’s  prosecution.

Israel: Freeze Would Not Include East Jerusalem

Officials Claim US Agreed to ‘Exclude’ East Jerusalem from Freeze
by Jason Ditz,


Israeli officials reiterated today that under no circumstances would the prospective 90 day settlement freeze include occupied East Jerusalem. Officials also claimed that the US was fine with this arrangement, and had also agreed to never again ask for a freeze after this one.

They have said this in the past, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claiming that East Jerusalem, though occupied in 1967 and not recognized as part of Israel, is part of their “eternal and undivided capital” and that government projects to oust Arabs from the region and build “Jewish only” neighborhoods don’t count as settlements.

US officials did not directly address the claims, but did insist that no final deal had been reached with Israel on the new freeze. Prime Minister Netanyahu seemed to confirm this, saying that such a deal was not necessarily imminent.

Securing enough political backing (or at least acquiescence) for the freeze has been difficult for Netanyahu, and he is expected to pledge massive settlement expansions in East Jerusalem in return for Shas not voting down the freeze.

The problem with this, of course, is that Israel is not, despite appearances, negotiating a peace deal with the US, but with the Palestinian Authority. The 90 day freeze is meant to coax the PA back to peace talks, but if it comes with major expansions in settlements in East Jerusalem it is unlikely to be welcomed as such, and even if the talks resume it seems 90 days is far too short to reach a deal.

Poll: US Support for Afghan War Plummets

Even Military Families Evenly Split on War’s Wisdom
by Jason Ditz,
Though a number of other polls have been showing popular opinion squarely against the Afghan War for awhile now, the well-respected Qunnipiac University poll had shown stubborn, albeit dwindling, support for the conflict through September.

But in a dramatic shift the new Qunnipiac poll also shows a firm majority of Americans, 50-44, opposing the wisdom of the conflict in general. Perhaps even more telling, the split amongst military families is a virtual dead heat, with 49-47 support. In general military families have overwhelmingly believed in the general concept of the mission, if they have not always agreed on tactics.

Americans are also roughly split down the middle on their view of President Obama’s general foreign policy, oddly split down party lines. This is odd because Afghanistan, President Obama’s centerpiece foreign policy, is still surprisingly popular among Republicans but overwhelming opposed among Democrats. Yet when the question shies away from mentioning Afghanistan and just mentions Obama, the split turns the opposite way.

For the first several years after the 2001 invasion, the Afghan War found itself largely off the American radar. Mutliple escalations by President Obama have led to a huge spike in death tolls however, putting the conflict more into focus for many Americans. So far however, the popular opposition to the conflict has not affected the overwhelming support it has in Congress, and Congressional efforts to end the war have stalled.


The Tea Party Moron Complex

By rallying behind dingbats and morons like Palin and Michele Bachmann, the Tea Party has made anti-intellectualism its rallying cry.

By Matt Taibbi

(Alternet) – –  If American politics made any sense at all, we wouldn’t have two giant political parties of roughly equal size perpetually fighting over the same 5–10 percent swatch of undecided voters, blues versus reds. Instead, the parties should be broken down into haves and have-nots — a couple of obnoxious bankers on the Upper East Side running for office against 280 million pissed-off credit card and mortgage customers. That’s the more accurate demographic picture of a country in which the top 1 percent has seen its share of the nation’s overall wealth jump from 34.6 percent before the crisis, in 2007, to over 37.1 percent in 2009.   Moreover, the standard of living for the  average American has plummeted during the crisis — the median American household net worth was $102,500 in 2007, and went down to $65,400 in 2009 — while the top 1 percent saw its net worth hold relatively steady, dropping from $19.5 million to $16.5 million.

But we’ll never see our political parties sensibly aligned according to these obvious economic divisions, mainly because it’s so pathetically easy in the TV age to set big groups of voters off angrily chasing their own tails in response to media-manufactured nonsense, with the Tea Party being a classic example of the phenomenon. If you want to understand why America is such a paradise for high-class thieves, just look at the way a manufactured movement like the Tea Party corrals and neutralizes public anger that otherwise should be sending pitchforks in the direction of downtown Manhattan.

There are two reasons why Tea Party voters will probably never get wise to the Ponzi-scheme reality of bubble economics. One has to do with the basic sales pitch of Tea Party rhetoric, which cleverly exploits Main Street frustrations over genuinely intrusive state and local governments that are constantly in the pockets of small businesses for fees and fines and permits.

The other reason is obvious: the bubble economy is hard as hell to understand. To even have a chance at grasping how it works, you need to commit large chunks of time to learning about things like securitization, credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, etc., stuff that’s fiendishly complicated and that if ingested too quickly can feature a truly toxic boredom factor.

So long as this stuff is not widely understood by the public, the Grifter class is going to skate on almost anything it does — because the tendency of most voters, in particular conservative voters, is to assume that Wall Street makes its money engaging in normal capitalist business and that any attempt to restrain that sector of the economy is thinly disguised socialism.

That’s why it’s so brilliant for the Tea Party to put forward as its leaders some of the most egregiously stupid morons on our great green earth. By rallying behind dingbats like Palin and Michele Bachmann — the Minnesota congresswoman who thought the movie Aladdin promoted witchcraft and insisted global warming wasn’t a threat because “carbon dioxide is natural” — the Tea Party has made anti-intellectualism itself a rallying cry. The Tea Party is arguing against the very idea that it’s even necessary to ask the kinds of questions you need to ask to grasp bubble economics.

Bachmann is the perfect symbol of the Dumb and Dumber approach to high finance. She makes a great show of saying things that would get a kindergartner busted to the special ed bus — shrieking, for instance, that AmeriCorps was a plot to force children into liberal “reeducation camps” (Bachmann’s own son, incidentally, was a teacher in an AmeriCorps program), or claiming that the U.S. economy was “100 percent private” before Barack Obama’s election (she would later say Obama in his first year and a half managed to seize control of “51 percent of the American economy”).

When the Chinese proposed replacing the dollar as the international reserve currency, Bachmann apparently thought this meant that the dollar itself was going to be replaced, that Americans would be shelling out yuan to buy six-packs of Sprite in the local 7-Eleven. So to combat this dire threat she sponsored a bill that would “bar the dollar from being  replaced by any foreign currency.” When reporters like me besieged Bachmann’s office with calls to ask if the congresswoman, a former tax attorney, understood the difference between currency and reserve currency, and to ask generally what the hell she was talking about, her spokeswoman, Debbee Keller, was forced to issue a statement clarifying that “she’s talking about the United States . . . The legislation would ensure that the dollar would remain the currency of the United States.” 

A Democratic staffer I know in the House called me up after he caught wind of Bachmann’s currency bill. “We get a lot of yokels in here, small-town lawyers who’ve never been east of Indiana and so on, but Michele Bachmann . . . We’ve just never seen anything quite like her before.”

Bachmann has a lot of critics, but they miss the genius of her political act. Even as she spends every day publicly flubbing political SAT questions, she’s always dead-on when it comes to her basic message, which is that government is always the problem and there are no issues the country has that can’t be worked out with basic common sense (there’s a reason why many Tea Party groups are called “Common Sense Patriots” and rally behind “common sense campaigns”).

Common sense sounds great, but if you’re too freaking lazy to penetrate the mysteries of carbon dioxide — if you haven’t mastered the whole concept of breathing by the time you’re old enough to serve in the U.S. Congress — you’re not going to get the credit default swap, the synthetic collateralized debt obligation, the interest rate swap, etc. And understanding these instruments and how they were used (or misused) is the difference between perceiving how Wall Street made its money in the last decades as normal capitalist business and seeing the truth of what it often was instead, which was simple fraud and crime. It’s not an accident that Bachmann emerged in the summer of 2010 (right as she was forming the House of Tea Party Caucus) as one of the fiercest opponents of financial regulatory reform; her primary complaint with the deeply flawed reform bill sponsored by Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank was that it would “end free checking accounts.”

Our world isn’t about ideology anymore. It’s about complexity. We live in a complex bureaucratic state with complex laws and complex business practices, and the few organizations with the corporate will power to master these complexities will inevitably own the political power. On the other hand, movements like the Tea Party more than anything else reflect a widespread longing for simpler times and simple solutions — just throw the U.S. Constitution at the whole mess and everything will be jake. For immigration, build a big fence. Abolish the Federal Reserve, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Education. At times the overt longing for simple answers that you get from Tea Party leaders is so earnest and touching, it almost makes you forget how insane most of them are.

This excerpt first appeared on DailyKos. Click here for a copy of “Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America.”
Mystery of Who Funded Right-wing “Radical Islam” Campaign Deepens
A document obtained by Salon creates new speculation about who paid for a right-wing campaign to stoke Islamophobia


By Justin Elliott


November 18, 2010 “Salon” – – In the heat of the 2008 presidential election, an obscure nonprofit group called the Clarion Fund made national news by distributing millions of DVDs about radical Islam in newspaper inserts in swing states.
The DVDs, 28 million in all, were a boost to Republican candidates who were trying to paint Democrats as weak on terrorism — and they arguably helped fuel the anti-Muslim sentiment that boiled over in the “ground zero mosque” fight last summer. The film, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War With the West,” was widely criticized for its cartoonish portrayal of Muslims as modern-day Nazis.

But who put up the money to send out all those millions of DVDs?

Clarion, which has strong links to the right-wing Israeli group Aish HaTorah and is listed in government records as a foreign nonprofit, would never say.

Indeed, the group does not have to release detailed donor information because of its nonprofit tax status. We knew only that there was serious money behind the effort: Clarion spent nearly $19 million in 2008, the year it sent out the DVDs.

Now, just as Clarion is gearing up to release a new film hyping the threat of Iran, the money mystery has deepened: According to a document submitted to the IRS by Clarion and obtained by Salon, a donor listed as Barry Seid gave Clarion nearly $17 million in 2008, which would have paid for virtually the entire “Obsession” DVD campaign.

Nonprofit groups must submit financial information including the identity of donors to the IRS — but ordinarily only basic revenue and spending data are made available to the public. In the case of Clarion, an extra page with donor information seems to have been inadvertently included in its public filing. See it here. (It was previously available on public websites that collect IRS forms submitted by nonprofits.)

There’s only one Barry Seid Salon could find who might fit the profile of a $17 million donor to Clarion. That would be businessman Barre Seid (note the different spelling) of Illinois, a longtime contributor to right-wing and Jewish causes. But his representative flatly denied to Salon that he has ever given money to Clarion.

The elderly and press-shy Seid is president of Tripp Lite, a large Chicago-based manufacturer of power strips that got into the personal computer market on the ground floor back in the 1980s. Seid has personally poured millions of dollars into Republican campaigns and conservative causes, and his foundation has given generously to the Cato Institute, the Americans for Limited Government Foundation, and the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This year, Seid received an honorary degree from Bar-Ilan University outside Tel Aviv for his work “supporting those organizations which will fortify Israel’s position in the world.”

But Seid assistant Joan Frontczak told Salon in an e-mail: “Mr. Seid did not make any contributions to the Clarion Fund.” And she added: “Mr. Seid is a very private person and doesn’t seek publicity of any kind.”
Furthermore, Clarion Fund spokesman Alex Traiman denied that the inadvertently released document is accurate.

“The sources of anonymous donations to the Clarion Fund in 2008 have been incorrectly identified,” Traiman said in an e-mail to Salon. “As like many other not-for-profit organizations, we respect the right of private donors to remain anonymous.”

But there’s another wrinkle here. As first reported by Counterpunch, a right-leaning Alexandria, Va.-based outfit called Donors Capital Fund revealed in its 2008 IRS filing that it gave $17.7 million to Clarion that year, the same year the DVDs were sent out. Donors Capital Fund is what’s known as a donor-advised fund: It offers various tax and other advantages to people who want to make large donations to nonprofits.

Whitney Ball, president of Donors Capital Fund, told Salon that the group acts as a charitable vehicle for individuals who give Donors Capital Fund money and tell it where they would like the money to go. “One of our clients made a recommendation for Clarion and so we did it,” she said. Ball declined to identify the client or comment on Seid.

Seid’s private foundation has in the past made at least one donation to Donors Capital Fund. Seid’s assistant did not respond to a request for comment about whether he had made a donation to Donors Capital Fund and recommended that the money go to Clarion. So, for now, it’s impossible to say for sure why the name “Barry Seid” showed up on Clarion’s tax forms.

Do neoconservatives really care about the Iranian opposition?

( The rumblings of the largely underground Iranian Green Movement encourage neoconservative pundit Reuel Marc Gerecht. “I think it’s the most amazing intellectual second revolution…that we’ve seen in the Middle East,” he told a packed briefing room at Bloomberg’s D.C. headquarters last month. But even as he called on President Barack Obama to do more to vocally support the embattled rights movement — thinly veiled U.S. encouragement for regime change, in other words — Gerecht pushed for bombing Iran.

Yet Green activists who work on the ground in Iran roundly oppose a military attack precisely because it will undermine opposition efforts. Confronted with their warnings against strikes by his debate opponent, Gerecht was dismissive. He derided dissident journalist Akbar Ganji as “delusional” and spoke in dangerous innuendo about Shirin Ebadi, a human rights lawyer and Nobel laureate.”There is a huge difference between what some dissidents will say privately and what they’ll say publicly,” said Gerecht of Ebadi, “and I’ll leave it at that.”

In a phone interview, Ebadi couldn’t remember Gerecht by name (noting that she speaks to four or five journalists a day), but emphatically denied the charge that she talks out of both sides of her mouth. “Me, no! Everything I say, is exactly what I say,” she told me in Farsi. “Whoever said this, that I say different things in public and private, is wrong.” “I’m the same person in public and private,” she went on. “And I’m against war.”

Ebadi hasn’t been in Iran since the crackdown on demonstrators in the wake of the June 2009 elections, but she’s nonetheless a tireless advocate for reform and human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”The military option will not benefit the U.S. interest or the Iranian interest,” she said recently in an interview with Think Progress, a Center for American Progress blog. “It is the worst option. You should not think about it. The Iranian people — including myself — will resist any military action.”

Yet no neoconservative in punditry — the field to which the movement has been mostly relegated by electoral defeat — has been more strident in calling for an attack on Iran than Gerecht. A former C.I.A. agent and current fellow at the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Gerecht makes no secret of his ambitions. In the penthouse of the Bloombeg building, Gerecht boasted that he’d “counted up the other day: I’ve written about 25,000 words about bombing Iran. Even my mom thinks I’ve gone too far.” Gerecht’s disappointment that the administration of Barack Obama remains unlikely to strike was palpable, and he stated his unequivocal support for an Israeli attack, lamenting that if they didn’t act soon, the opportunity might be lost.

“I believe Obama’s Middle East policy is correct,” Ebadi told Matt Duss of Think Progress, noting that by offering engagement Obama reveals the Iranians as the intransigent party in talks. Ganji, the dissident journalist, has also chimed in on Obama’s policy. “[T]he mere fact that Obama didn’t make military threats made the Green Movement possible,” Ganji said at the National Press Club in Washington this summer. The following day, in his acceptance speech for the 2010 Cato Institute’s Milton Friedman Award, Ganji also said military attacks were counter-productive for reforming Iran: “The Iranian regime will abuse the current emergency conditions — brought on by the threat of a military strike — to push the democratic Green Movement away from the center of world attention.”

Ganji, who spent six years in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison before leaving Iran in 2006, told me by phone that a military attack would hurt the middle class at the center of the Green Movement. For this reason, both Ebadi and Ganji have also opposed the escalation of broad economic sanctions advocated by Gerecht. (Ebadi supports political sanctions against officials responsible for rights abuses.)

“I have a great deal of respect for Akbar Ganji, but he’s delusional,” Gerecht said at the Bloomberg forum after Center for American Progress’s Brian Katulis mentioned Ganji as an opponent of belligerent U.S. rhetoric. “Ganji and the entire movement of the ‘liberal reformers’ — and I use that in quotes — were probably the most errant of the analysts on Iran in the 1990s.” “They really did think there was going to be a soft revolution,” he went on. “They really did think they could internally push the ball and that Khamenei would not crush them.” (The current incarnation of the “liberal reform” movement — the Green Movement that Gerecht so admires — was also crushed in the wake of the disputed presidential election.)

I described Gerecht’s comments and positions to Ganji, using the word ‘neocon,’ for lack of a better translation. Ganji recognized the word.”Those who try to see the world this way created the problems in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “The work of these neocons” — Ganji used the word, too, amid his Farsi — “who are ‘not delusional’ have helped increase Islamic fundamentalism.”

Many other Iranian opposition figures and reform-aligned activists have publicly spoken out against broad-based sanctions, including movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi (and, more recently, one of his top advisers) and Mehdi Karroubi. “Human rights activists have been fighting for human rights for years and they consistently have gone on record opposing war and sanctions,” Sussan Tahmasebi, a women’s rights activist who’s worked in Iran for 11 years, told me. “I’m opposed to war and sanctions because it hurts Iranian people on the ground. It stifles the voices for change. It stifles the message for human rights inside Iran.”

Noting the rare opposition figures that have wondered if sanctions will pressure the regime, others have pointed out that perhaps Iranian activists can’t speak out publicly for concern out of their safety. But Tahmasebi, who came to the U.S. recently for a visit and was given an award by Human Rights Watch, said that Iranian activists’ opposition to war and sanctions are principled human rights positions.”Human rights activists have to be transparent to ensure that their voices are credible at home. And they have to be consistent with their message,” she told me. “In public and in private, they have been consistent in their opposition to sanctions and war because they are an extension of human rights abuses. They only serve to hurt human rights in Iran.”

Nonetheless, Gerecht called for communications support for Iran’s would-be opposition, and endorsed passive support for those who “are willing to risk their lives for the case of democracy.” But those same people who “risk their lives” on the ground are almost universally against Gerecht’s policy proscriptions for Iran. To couch one’s unabashed support for bombing Iran as a vital security interest for the U.S. and its allies despite the warnings of current and former top Pentagon brass is one thing (and raises issues not discussed herein). But to simultaneously endorse war and those who insist it will hurt them is quite another.

Gerecht can’t have his Keik-e Yazdi and eat it too.

Please check out the brand new book detailing Israel’s deliberate attack on the USS LIBERTY here

Posted in UKComments Off on NOVANEWS**NOVANEWS




Holocaust-denying Bishop’s lawyer pulls out of case ahead of trial

British Bishop Richard Williamson charged with denying in television interview that the Nazis systematically murdered millions of Jews.

The lawyer representing British Bishop Richard Williamson in a German trial over his denial of the extent of the Holocaust unexpectedly pulled out of the case on Wednesday, weeks before it was scheduled to go to court.


Richard Williamson, Archive British Bishop Richard Williamson.
Photo by: Archive

Williamson, of the ultra-orthodox Catholic Society of St Pius X (SSPX), denied in a television interview last year that the Nazis had systematically murdered millions of Jews.

The interview, for a Swedish television channel, took place in Germany, where Holocaust denial is a criminal offence.

The court in the southern German town of Regensburg is now to decide next week whether to postpone the trial, scheduled for November 29.

Williamson’s defense lawyer, Matthias Lossmann, told German Press Agency dpa that they had “amicably ended” their cooperation, indicating that this was in part due to Williamson’s decision to hire another lawyer. He said the name would soon be made public.

“You will then see why I no longer feel called for,” he added.

Williamson’s remarks shook the Catholic church last year, as Pope Benedict XVI had ended the excommunication of Williamson and three other SSPX leaders weeks earlier.
In the TV interview, Williamson stated that no more than 300,000 people had died in concentration camps, and that nobody was killed in gas chambers.



27 July 2010 03:32
 Michael Warschawski, Alternative Information Center (AIC)

This week the Knesset began its summer recess, and its members earned their holiday: in the last days of the previous session, they worked overtime to present various proposals, the common denominator of which was to save the state from its enemies at home.


We will note just a few of them: proposed legislation to render the Islamic Movement illegal; to hold a referendum should the government agree to a peace deal that included retreat from East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights; to condition citizenship on loyalty to the state as a Jewish state; to criminalise citizens who support sanctions and/or a boycott of Israel, including a boycott of settlement products. To all of these and others, we must add the old proposal prohibiting public commemoration of the Naqba.

The face of the Knesset is as the face of its most recent legislation: fascist with a mostly tiny and pathetic opposition. It is no wonder, therefore, that the Knesset finds it difficult to accept a member such as Hanin Zoabi, particuarly as it is not possible – yet? To fire her from the Knesset, so it revokes some of her rights as an elected public official. My heart is with Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalkha, Dov Hanin and the handful of sane persons remaining in Israel’s legislature, who are forced to be in the company of approximately 100 rude and weak minded bullies, who display verbal violence toward them which will sooner or later transform into a real attack.


This is a legislature that we inherited directly from the bloody attack against the residents of Gaza in the winter of 2008/2009. The widespread and almost unified support of the war crimes of Olmert, Barak and Ashkenazi gave birth to a fascist Knesset in which Benjamin Netanyahu sounds like a reasonable statesman and Tzipi Livni a radical leftist.


As a result, the state of Israel is experiencing unprecedented international isolation, and even the “friendly atmosphere” which supposedly characterized the recent meeting between Netanyahu and the US President cannot disguise the discomfort of the White House with Israeli actions. The deadly violence utilized by the army against the Freedom Flotilla shocked the entire world not only because of the numerous dead and injured, but primarily due to the message that Israel wished to convey to the world: we do what we wish, with no consideration for international law, our image or implications for the international community, including strategic partners such as Turkey.


“We showed the world that we are prepared to go crazy,” bragged Tzipi Livni after the slaughter in Gaza, thus proving that there is an inheritance from Golda Meir in that “it doesn’t matter what the goys say, but what the Jews do.” So Meir used to brag and as a result there was, amongst many things, Israel’s defeat in the 1973 “Yom Kippur” war. No doubt another “Yom Kippur: awaits Israel, this one more bitter than the past. This is only a matter of time, and this time it will undoubtedly come from the North.


This is a crazy dash toward the abyss, the end of which is unknown. The Greeks used to say that before destroying their enemies, the gods would drive them mad. The series of laws recently proposed by the Knesset, and the legislative monster which gave birth to them, are the madness before the fall. 


Translated to English by the Alternative Information Center (AIC).

Posted in PoliticsComments Off on FASCIST ISRAELI KNESSET




Zionism, discrimination, and racist intent

Nov 18, 2010

David Samel


Jerry Slater constructs an artful but unconvincing defense against the charge that the

 Jewish State is inherently racist. He reasons that the preferences and privileges

accorded to Jews over non-Jews in Israel/Palestine is founded upon genuine Jewish

insecurity rather than racist Jewish superiority. He concedes that many Israeli Jews,

an increasing number in fact, are personally racist, but insists that racism need not be

 inherent in the concept of a Jewish State.

Jerry’s error is in defining racism narrowly to include only those attitudes that are

based upon superiority. The problem is that the absence of such motive is no defense

to a charge of racism. Any system that confers rights and privileges upon some people

based upon race, creed, color, national origin, or in this case, a unique hybrid of ethno-

religious qualities, is a racist system. Jerry distinguishes South African apartheid on

the ground that the white colony there was established via actual racism rather than

insecurity. But what of white people born in South Africa during the apartheid regime?

They surely had a genuine fear of backlash should they grant equal rights to the 80+%

of the population who were harshly oppressed for their skin color, but whites could not

reasonably defend apartheid on the ground that it was needed to preserve their safety.

They could not reasonably claim that they thought blacks were just as capable and worthy

as whites, but that apartheid was nevertheless necessary to protect their physical safety.

Nor can Israeli Jews employ that excuse.

This has been true from the very beginning. The early Zionists formulated a plan to

establish a Jewish State in a land populated by a large number of non-Jewish people.

Their attitude toward the indigenous population was that their wants and needs and

rights were trumped by those of Jewish people throughout the world. “We want your

land for our state,” was the message. Does it matter whether they were motivated by

feelings of insecurity or superiority? Surely not to the Palestinians, who were equally

victimized regardless of the victimizers’ motives.

In the U.S., we have an equal protection clause in our Constitution to protect against racism.

It is intended to ensure that the law is applied equally to all, regardless of birth characteristics.

It is the application of government policy that is scrutinized for compliance with the clause.

Intent is sometimes a factor, but only in the sense of whether there is unlawful intent to

discriminate. The motive is irrelevant, and a discriminatory policy may not be defended on

the ground that it is not based on the concept of racial superiority. That will not save a

constitutionally infirm application of discriminatory law. 

Any regime that accords rights and privileges to some of the people living under its jurisd-

iction over others, based on any foundation of ethnicity, is an anachronism that has no place

in the 21st century, and hopefully, has a limited life span. Israel may not be unique in this

regard, though it probably is unique in the sense that Palestinians must yield superior rights

not only to Israeli Jews, but to Diaspora Jews as well.

Finally, this raises an important question: If Zionism is a form of racism, is it fair to label

all Zionists as racist? The superficial answer might be yes, because those who subscribe to

a racist ideology are themselves racist. But I dissent from that view. Personal racism is an

extremely serious charge, and an accusation of racism is meant to attach a stigma to the

accused; surely that is the basis for the absurdly overused charge of anti-Semitism against

Israeli critics.

Several years ago, Harvard President Larry Summers said that those who support BDS

were “anti-Semitic in their effect if not in their intent.” Many who shared my negative

opinion of this remark asked “What the hell does that even mean?” However, I understood

the nature of the charge, while disagreeing with Summers’s application to BDS.

There is not necessarily a correlation between those who subscribe to what may fairly be

described as a racist ideology and those who are genuinely racist. For example, on affirmative

action, each side claims the mantle of opposition to racism, thereby portraying the opposite

view as one founded on racism. Most people on either side, however, are not actually racist.

Obviously, racism is a deplorable and highly visible phenomenon in Israeli society, but I

think that to portray all those who believe in a Jewish State as racist is facile and unfair.

It also is unwise, because if there is an effort to reach so-called liberal Zionists and convince

them that Zionism itself is the root cause of the problem, accusing them of racism would

needlessly provoke antagonism. Virtually everyone would vehemently deny such a charge,

and refuse to consider whether there is any truth to it. On the other hand, trying to persuade

a liberal Zionist that race-like preferences are inherent in the ideology is more likely to succeed

if it is not accompanied with a charge of personal racism. Besides, I know many, many people

who believe in the Jewish State but are genuinely anti-racist. Jerry Slater, who has made many

insightful and valuable contributions to the I/P debate, is a one-person refutation of the notion

 that all Zonists are racists.

No goyim need apply as experts at taxpayer-funded confab on Israel

Nov 18, 2010

Philip Weiss


I haven’t done a post like this in a while. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still very bad, and

don’t think about this kind of thing 24/7.

The U.S. Institute of Peace is funded by Congress as a nonpartisan institution to help resolve

international conflicts. Now look here.

 They’re doing a big panel Dec. 7 on internal politics in Israel. And it looks like all 4 speakers

are Jewish and/or Israeli. What can you say about this kind of thing? It’s inappropriate.

In an area of conflict in which religious and ethnic differences have played a large role…

regarding a country that is 20 percent non-Jewish and in which questions of racial

discrimination have become huge, and questions about blind American support for whose

policies have also lately arisen… they couldn’t find a Palestinian-American or a non-Jewish


But I guess those people don’t have opinions or expertise. From the USIP:

For Israel, the question of peace with its neighbors has always touched on the most

sensitive internal divides. As part of a USIP series focusing on domestic politics in

Israel and its neighbors, a panel of esteemed experts will examine various levels of

internal dynamics in Israel – from divides within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s

inner circle to fissures within Israeli society more broadly – and their impact on Israel’s

regional conflicts and its relationship with the United States.

This event will be on the record and feature the following speakers:

David Makovsky

Ziegler Distinguished Fellow and Director, Project on the Middle East Peace Process

The Washington Institute

Yoram Peri

Abraham S. and Jack Kay Chair in Israel Studies and Director of the Joseph and

Alma Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies University of Maryland

Shai Feldman

Judith and Sidney Swartz Director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies

Brandeis University

Scott Lasensky,

Chair and Discussant co-author with Daniel C. Kurtzer, “Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace”

U.S. Institute of Peace

About the Series: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Internal Challenges on the Road to

Peace Certain domestic Israeli and Palestinian concerns — from state institution-building

and secular-religious divides, to coalition politics and educational reform — have strong

implications for the broader conflict, and for international efforts towards a peaceful

resolution. Through a series of panels and related publications over the course of the

 year, USIP will explore such critical yet oft-neglected internal dynamics….

One by one, Americans awaken

Nov 18, 2010

Philip Weiss


Deppen Webber, 42, and father of one, quit his $100,000 job in Sonoma County, CA,

after 9 years with the company when he realized how much it was making off defense

contracts, and then he went off to Israel-Palestine to help in the olive harvest and bring

attention to the struggle. Reporting by Jeremy Hay of the Press-Democrat

(thanks to Jeff Blankfort):

Deppen, a one-time baker who could be described as a sort of slow-rising activist,

began to have concerns about U.S. foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan over the

past decade…

“I just can’t understand why we constantly need to be at war,” said Webber, also a

critic of U.S. policy regarding Israel, one of its staunchest allies, and the Palestinians.

…Local Palestinian supporters have hailed Webber’s actions…

During his weeks in the Middle East, Webber said he harvested olives with Palestinian

farmers and met with pro-Palestinian activists and educational organizations.

He also explored parts of the West Bank where Jewish settlements — the continuation

of which have stalled the latest round of peace negotiations — have sprouted, an

experience he said was eye-opening.

“Seeing the settlements first hand, and seeing the settlers right there in Palestinian

territory, it just confirmed my suspicions of how things worked over there,” he said.

What young Israeli refused to do in Palestine, she acted out on 116th St

Nov 18, 2010

Philip Weiss



Writes Nancy Kricorian of Code Pink’s Stolen Beauty campaign:

I went to the Students for Justice in Palestine’s mock checkpoint on the Columbia

campus this afternoon and handed out fliers for an hour and a half. Columbia’s LionPAC,

HIllel, Just Peace, Grain Lavi and Tarbootnikim were counter-demonstrating, handing

out fliers, some of them wrapped in Israeli flags, others of them attempting to get into

provocative arguments, which for the most part SJP’ers were able to avoid. Maya Wind,

one of the JVP/CODEPINK Shministim [Wind refused to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces]

from last year who is now a freshman at Barnard, was carrying a cardboard rifle and helping

to run the checkpoint. She was completely in character as a gruff and unpleasant checkpoint

 guard, so I didn’t even say hello, but the photo above shows her in the role that she refused

to play in real life.

NSFW (unless you work at AIPAC)

Nov 18, 2010

Adam Horowitz


The following is a dramatization of Steven J. Rosen’s deposition given on September 22, 2010

as part of his lawsuit against AIPAC.

You can read the entire deposition, in a pdf after the jump. Now someone just has to animate

the portions that are leading commentators to ask:

 “why isn’t AIPAC properly registered as a foreign agent of the government?


Israel arrests 13 activists attempting to help Palestinian farmers access their land

Nov 18, 2010

Adam Horowitz


From the Palestine Solidarity Project:

Beit Ommar, Southern West Bank, 10:00am: 13 Israeli, international and Palestinian

activists were arrested at 10 am this morning while accompanying farmers to their

land in the Saffa region of Beit Ommar. A group of nearly 30 activists accompanied

Sheik Mohammad Aady to his land near the Bat Ayn settlement, which is marked for

annexation by the Israeli military. After working on the land for half an hour, soldiers

emerged from the Bat Ayn settlement and surrounding hills and detained the group.

A number of sound bombs were shot at those working on the land before the arrests.

Amongst those arrested was Biet Ommar National Committee member and cameraman

Mohammed Ayyad. As of 1 pm the group was still being detained in the police station in

the Gush Ezion settlement.

Upon leaving the nearby village of Beit Ommar, soldiers fired from their military vehicles

around 25 canisters of tear gas at a group of children who were throwing rocks.

The tear gas spread throughout the residential area.

In the past two weeks there have been 33 detentions of farmers and activists in Saffa.

The military claims that the land is “state land,” indicating their unequivocal intention

to annex it to the Bat Ayn settlement. All of the farmers have documents proving their

ownership of the land.

Settlers frequently attack the farmers and land in Saffa. Two nights ago settlers set fire

to 70 olive trees on the hillside near Bat Ayn, and three Palestinians were arrested as they

tried to extinguish the fire. Three more Palestinian activists who went to take pictures the

next day were also detained.


Residents react to court allowing ‘Jewish only’ building in Jaffa: ‘The result of this decision is

that it is legal and legitimate to build a settlement in the heart of the Ajami neighborhood’

Nov 18, 2010



And more news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers / Land, property and resources theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Residents fume as court approves Jewish-only housing / Jillian Kestler-D’Amours
…”We are very disappointed from the decision of the [Supreme] Court,” saidSami Abu Shahadeh, the Coordinator of Darna, The Popular Committee for Housing

Rights in Jaffa.”The result of this decision is that it is legal and legitimate to build a

settlement in the heart of the Ajami neighborhood, which has a vast Arab majority.

 The settlement is closed only for national, religious Jews, and this means that anyone

who is living now in the Ajami neighborhood — Arab or Jew — is not allowed to have an

apartment in the project which is built nearby his house,” he said. Indeed, with the

Supreme Court’s ruling, Be’emunah, a settler movement that aims to create ideological

and religious Jewish communities in cities with large Palestinian populations, was given

the go-ahead to build 20 apartments in the heart of Ajami.

A privatized Nakba / Charlotte Silver

Palestinians describe the Israel Land Administration Law (ILA) quietly passed by

the Israeli Knesset in 2009 as the final stage in the 62-year process of displacement from

their homeland. The legislation is expected to have a long-term, disastrous impact on

Palestinian lives and precludes the possibility of a negotiated resolution to the conflict …

 This law allows the state to transfer ownership of all developed land to an individual,

private company or corporation. With egregious disregard for international law, Israel’s

Land Reform Law applies not only to land within Israel proper, but also to occupied

East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights, which Israel annexed in violation of

international law in 1981.

Israel: New planning policy for East Jerusalem

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat presented a controversial new city planning policy for

East Jerusalem to the public on Tuesday morning, as East Jerusalemites celebrated

Eid Al-Adha with friends and family. The re-zoning plan, according to a statement from

the mayor’s office, would take into account the “current unsatisfactory situation” and

call for a freeze on all current demolition orders until the plan is approved and can go

forward … In the spring of 2010, residents of the community put together an alternative plan

proposing a series of measures that would bring the number of forced evictions and

demolitions planned by the Jerusalem municipality down to zero. Days ahead of the

announcement of the new policy, a spokesman for the municipality said he was not

aware of the plan.

Haaretz editorial: Israel’s government can restore reason to Sheikh Jarrah

A new plan that urges the state to take possession of disputed properties could head

of decades-old disputes on both sides of the city … Efforts to reclaim Jewish assets in

East Jerusalem open up old “1948 files,” invite Palestinians to pursue reciprocal claims

on the western side of the city [quelle horreur!], undermine Israeli opposition to a right

of refugee return, sabotage hopes of a peace agreement and turn Jerusalem into a flashpoint

in the continuing dispute. The government, however, still has the power to amend this distortion.

PM office prevented the recognition of two Bedouin villages / Noam Sheizaf

A state committee was about to include two Palestinian-Bedouin villages in a new

municipal plan, thus giving their residents official rights over their lands and homes

after decades of dispute. A letter from an adviser to Netanyahu changed this decision —

The problem of the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Israeli south received some

media attention recently following the repeated destruction by the state of a village

named Al-Arakiv. There are more than 40 unrecognized Palestinian-Bedouin villages in

Israel, many of them predating the state itself. Their residents are Israeli citizens, but they

don’t receive basic services such as water and electricity, and occasionally, they are evicted

from their homes and lands.

Of scorpions, settlers, soldiers, and springs / Mazin Qumsiyeh

…The Zawahras’ saga is just an example.  Colonial Jewish settlements in two main

locations of the Zawahras’ domain (in the hills around Bethlehem and in the Jordan

valley) have made it impossible for the Zawahras to continue the Bedouin way of life.  

In the Bethlehem district, Israeli colonies, security zones, army bases etc now control

the vast majority of the rich lands.  The remaining land is basically the developed

Palestinian areas with few open areas.  With less than 5% of the open range areas of the

Bethlehem district left available for grazing, the impact was devastating:

 1) significant decrease in number of animals (even as the human population more than

tripled in the past 45 years), and 2) the forced overgrazing on the few remaining open areas

 had a devastating ecological effect.  It is sad to compare biodiversity in the Bethlehem area

today versus what I saw 40 years ago.

After Ariel: Kiryat Arba gets new culture hall

After Ariel residents got their very own brand new cultural center which was accompanied

by three boycott letters, and quite a media storm, the residents of Kiryat Arba are hoping

to enjoy concerts and performance in their own culture hall: The construction of luxurious

cultural center, the second beyond the green line, is set to be completed over the next few months.

Settlers set Saffa ablaze, 3 Palestinian youth arrested
17 Nov – Palestine Solidarity Project – Last night [Tuesday] settlers from the Bat Ayn settlement set fire to 70 olive trees in the Saffa region of Beit Ommar. The trees belonged to the Thalji Aady family, who have been subject to frequent settler violence and military harassment. The fire was lit around 9:30 pm, and burned for 3 hours before fire trucks from the village were able to extinguish the flames. At 11:00 pm 3 military jeeps arrived and attempted to prevent villagers from extinguishing the fire, arresting 3 Palestinian youth in the process. blamed for fire near Nablus
Israeli settlers set fire to Palestinian farmland between the West Bank cities of Nablus and Qalqiliya on Tuesday, officials said. Ghassan Dughlus, the Palestinian Authority official monitoring settler activity in the northern West Bank, said Israelis from the settlement of Givat Gilad set fires in the village of Jit. He said about 100 trees were burned in the blaze. Mayor Nasser As-Sida told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers bared villagers from going to the land in order to put out the fire.

AG: Seal Jewish home in East Jerusalem
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein orders municipality to carry out court order to evacuate, seal Jewish building in east Jerusalem suburb of Silwan, in keeping with rule of law principle [why this one building… to look impartial?],7340,L-3986174,00.html

Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

13 activists detained during volunteer work
BEIT UMMAR, Hebron (Ma’an) — Thirteen activists from a group of 30 were detained by Israeli forces Thursday afternoon while aiding local farmers whose land is set for confiscation by an adjacent settlement, locals from the village of Saffa reported. Early Thursday morning officials said the activists were escorted to lands belonging to Sheik Mohammad Aady, reportedly slated for annexation the Bat Ayin settlement.

Students join Ariel boycott
Ariel boycott — first artists, now students. A group of education students from Beit Berl College on Wednesday informed the college’s administration that they refuse to hold their final project at an educational facility in the city [settlement] of Ariel. “We will not teach beyond the Green Line,” the students said.,7340,L-3986308,00.html

Veteran TV host Yaron London endorses cultural boycott of Ariel
In this morning’s Yediot [full translation of article at bottom of post; Hebrew original here], London explains how a chance encounter with two of West Bank settlers lead him [to] this conclusion: “This story taught me that contrary to what I thought at first, there is actually some benefit to the boycott declared by the actors.  Its main goal is to damage Ariel’s image as a completely ordinary community, just like one of the communities within the Green Line. The image of normalcy has been successfully instilled, because consciousness is not fond of complex structures of thinking … But this is not so: Ariel was built on occupied land, and its existence poses a challenge to common decency and international law.  A few brave artists have done us the service of reminding us of this, and their protest created a great commotion.  This is all that is required of an effective protest.

New Yorkers protest fundraising cruise for illegal Hebron settlements
17 Nov – 120 New Yorkers silently picketed at the entrance to Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers this evening (16 November) to protest against the Brooklyn-based Hebron Fund’s fundraising event to expand Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Hebron … The protest was endorsed by sixteen US human rights and peace groups, three of which are Jewish (see groups below).

#BDS: British boycott campaigners target Israeli string quartet
British activists of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) are planning to protest outside a concert hall in the city of Bath, in England, later this week, over a concert given by a string quartet from Israel. The ‘Bath Chronicle’ reports that the Bristol branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign alleges that group – the Jerusalem String Quartet – was aligned with the Israeli military. The musicians reject the charge.

#BDS: 5 Australian unions support BDS of Israel
Five Australian unions have joined the international campaign advocating the boycott of Israeli goods from the occupied West Bank … Peter Tighe, national secretary of the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union, told The Australian newspaper, “We are not anti-Jewish, we just think the human misery over there is outrageous.”

#BDS: US Mennonite students push for divestment from Israeli occupation
On 12 November 2010, Students for Morally Responsible Investment (SMRI) presented their case against EMU’s investment in businesses which help fund or further oppression in Israel-Palestine. Leaders of SMRI have now met with Everence (a Mennonite financial institution), Mennonite Educational Agency (MEA) and the EMU administration, seeking a change of policy. They say they are hopeful about progress made at the meetings – including the Financial and Audit Committee of EMU last week.


Israeli fights Spanish site’s boycott
Bertha Linker gets Spanish learning website to accept her, remove anti-Israel material — Bertha Linker, 32, recently decided to register with the website in order to improve her level of writing in Spanish through online studies. But she was soon surprised to learn that her request had been rejected as the website is boycotting Israel over its policy in the Palestinian territories.,7340,L-3985818,00.html

Strauss Group removes support for IDf from English website
An Israeli company that co-owns Sabra, the number one selling hummus brand in the United States, has removed support of the IDF from its English-language website after a video circulating the internet criticized the company’s support of Israel’s “human rights abuses,” according to a press release issued Thursday by the Philadelphia branch of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement … Kate Zaidan, a spokesperson for BDS group said, “We notice that while Stauss’s English-language website no longer makes these claims, the Hebrew-language part of the site still includes them.”

Extrajudicial assassinations / War crimes / War criminals

Brothers killed in Gaza strike
GAZA CITY — Israeli aircraft targeted Gaza’s most populous city Wednesday, killing two Palestinian men. Witnesses said a drone strike targeted a white Subaru just off central Gaza City’s Al-Wehda street, leaving a hole in the ground. The car was ripped in half, the back blown 10 meters from the front with other pieces littering the street. Power lines were damaged in the blast. Black stains from smoke and fire could be seen on an adjacent building. The strike came at sundown on the second night of the Eid Al Adha holiday, in a busy section of the city. Medical officials at Ash-Shifa Hospital identified the deceased as Muhammad Yassin and his brother, Islam Yassin. An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the assassination, which was the second in two weeks. She said “a senior operative belonging to the terrorist group Army of Islam was targeted” because the group, a radical Islamist organization, was plotting to attack Israeli citizens in the Sinai.

Islamist group posts Hebrew-language threat online
An Islamist group on Thursday posted a Hebrew-language threat on the Internet, pledging revenge for the killing of two militants in an Israeli air strike on Gaza City a day earlier … At the end of the clip, the speaker identifies himself as belonging to “Ansar al-Sunna in Al-Quds” — in what appeared to be a reference to a Gaza-based Salafist group which models itself on Al-Qaeda.

Israel and gang warfare in Gaza / Tim King
(SALEM, Ore.) – Try to imagine driving down the street in Los Angeles, London, or any other modern city, and watching the car in front of you blow to smithereens from a drone strike as parts of auto and men fly into the sky, filling the air momentarily with a reddish haze. This was the scene in the historic city of Gaza today, when Israel savagely attacked two men in a white Subaru in a busy part of Gaza … Welcome to the Mideast gang wars. That is how Israel operates, like a ruthless street gang; perhaps the supreme street gang.

Dubai’s top cop denies meeting Israeli police official
DUBAI, November 17, 2010 (AFP) – Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan, who has said Israeli agents assassinated a Hamas commander while in the emirate, on Wednesday denied a press report he met a top Israeli police official in Qatar. “I categorically deny the report,” Khalfan told AFP. He was referring to a report in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot that he had met Israel’s police investigations and intelligence branch chief, Major General Yoav Segalovich, at the Interpol general assembly in Doha. “I did not even attend the Interpol meeting,” Khalfan said.

German photographer Kai Wiedenhöfer exhibition – aftermath of Cast Lead in Gaza
Exhibition of Kai Wiedenhöfer at the Musée d´Art Moderne de la ville de Paris. Interview with France 3. [Warning: many photos horrifying.  Israel National News says that there is no mention of this exhibition on the museum’s website, and that appears to be true, though it is mentioned elsewhere. A large Jewish group in France has objected to the exhibition, and the museum’s director seems to have claimed no responsibility for housing it.]

IDF officer suspected of covering up Gaza killing
An IDF commander is suspected of blocking an investigation into the death of a Palestinian in Gaza, according to reports released on Thursday. The officer is suspected of not submitting the results of a probe about a woman killed when she approached a Givati Brigade station during Operation Cast Lead.

Site exposes IDF ‘war crminals’
A website that went online Tuesday has published a list of 200 IDF soldiers which it classifies as directly involved in operations carried out in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. Each entry features the soldiers and officers’ pictures and personal details, including identification numbers and addresses … Soldiers listed include officers from the very top of the IDF hierarchy – Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and down to a sergeant in the infantry training program … The officers and soldiers aren’t quite sure how their details got into the website’s hands, but clarified that they were proud of their actions and happy to be included in the list.,7340,L-3986365,00.html

MK Dichter cancels participation in Madrid Coalition peace conference for fear of arrest
Member of Knesset Avi Dichter, former Head of Israeli General Security Services (GSS), recently canceled a trip to Spain, due to fear he would be detained or arrested by Spanish authorities for his involvement in alleged war crimes against Palestinians.

Violence / Incursions

Israeli troops raid Beni Naim school, east of Hebron
Hebron – PNN – Israeli forces raided the Abdullah bin Mas’ud school in Beni Naim township east of Hebron on Thursday morning. Local sources said surrounded and inspected the school and ransacked much of the furniture inside. The specific target of the raid was unclear. On the morning of the raid, Israeli troops set up military checkpoints and stopped passersby to check their identification at the main entrances to Hebron, including the northern Halhoul Bridge. This is the second day in a row such checkpoints have been set up. Raids and arrests have been occurring in Hebron for the past week.

Israeli forces close village looking for Molotov thrower
Israeli forces entered the Nablus-area village of Madama on Wednesday night, searching for young residents allegedly behind a Molotov cocktail-throwing incident earlier in the day. Member of the local village council Hasan Ziyadeh said that during the raid soldiers closed down the town, preventing residents from leaving their homes and searched several residential buildings under the cover of gunfire before detaining one man … An Israeli military spokeswoman said two Molotov cocktails were thrown toward a settler road in the area,

Stones injure Palestinian, Israeli drivers
A Palestinian and two Israelis were injured when vehicles were pelted with stones in separate incidents in the Jerusalem area on Tuesday night, Israeli radio reported. According to the report, a Palestinian man was hospitalized after his car was struck with stones near Israel’s Hizma military checkpoint northeast of Jerusalem. A Palestinian and two Israelis were injured when cars were showered with stones in several areas near Jerusalem. It was unclear who was responsible. Two Israelis were also mildly injured when stones were thrown at a bus traveling through East Jerusalem.

Israeli settlers’ violence report – September and October 2010
The following report highlights a drastic change in Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians, not only because of the increasing number of aggressions but also because of the evolution of the violence itself. In September and October 2009, only a few aggressions against Palestinian farmers – related to harvest, land and farming equipment – were reported. Yet approximately 22 incidents of this kind were reported this year for the same period. Even if this time of year is particularly violent in the West Bank due to the olive harvesting season, other notable changes can be observed this year.


Mortar shells from Gaza hit Israel, no injuries
Two mortar shells fired from Gaza landed in Israeli territory on Thursday, causing no injuries, the country’s army said, a day after an Israeli airstrike killed two brothers in the Palestinian enclave. An Israeli military spokeswoman said the shells landed in the Eshkol Regional Council, adjacent to Gaza. There was no immediate claim of responsibility from Palestinian armed groups in Gaza.

Group reports clashes near Gaza border
The military wing of Islamic Jihad confronted an Israeli force entering the Gaza Strip early Tuesday, the group said. The Al-Quds Brigades said in a statement that its fighters launched mortar shells and live gunfire to turn back an Israeli force which crossed into Gaza via the Al-Qaraqa village north of Khan Younis in the southern strip. A number of soldiers were injured during the approximately 15-minute clash, according to the group, which reiterated its “right to resist Israeli aggression and affirmed the choice of resistance until the whole land is free.”


Israel may hold protester beyond sentence
BETHLEHEM — Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the anti-wall protester, was scheduled to be released Thursday after a 1-year prison term. But the military prosecution has filed a petition demanding to extend Abu Rahmah’s detention past the time he was sentenced. If the petition is accepted, Abu Rahmah will be kept in jail past his release date, and despite having served his sentence in full. Supporters said Wednesday that the detainee’s case will be heard at Ofter prison Thursday morning.

Eid without a father and husband / Evie Soli, ISM
An interview with the wives of Abdallah and Adeeb Abu Rahma — Al Eid is a holy time of the year for Muslims. Families gather and visit each other over the four holidays, which are for most a time for families to be together. When one member of the family is missing, it makes it hard to enjoy Al Eid in the same way. Thousands of families of Palestinian political prisoners are suffering because a family member is in prison. For Majida, wife of Abdallah Abu Rahma who has now been held for one year in Israeli jail under the accusation of ‘incitement’, every day without her husband is difficult.

Wa’el al Faqeeh released from Israeli prison
UPDATE | 17 November 2010: Wa’el al-Faqeeh was released from Israeli prison today and is back in his Nablus home. The International Solidarity Movement strongly condemned his arrest, which marked an escalation in Israeli targeting of Palestinian popular resistance leaders. Wa’el has been a irreplaceable grassroots organizer in the Nablus area and we are ecstatic that he has been released. He is back in Nablus and is ready to continue his reign as Chess champion. Please consider making a donation to help pay for his legal fees (see bottom of the post to donate) or visit the International Solidarity Movement donations page.

Journalists held after covering Safa village arson
Hebron – PNN – Israeli forces held a group of journalists who tried to cover Wednesday’s settler assaults in the village of Safa, near Hebron. Muhammad Ayad Awad, media spokesman for the Palestine Solidarity Project, said that troops detained a Palestine Television crew including Fada Nasir and Mahmoud Khilaf, as well as a group of solidarity activists. They were forbidden from taking pictures of the fire started in Safa by Israeli settlers from nearby Bat Ayin. The fire reportedly destroyed more than ten acres of olive and almond trees.According to Awad, the military’s explanation was that the burning acreage was a “closed military zone.”

Two arrested in Beit Awla west of Hebron
Hebron – PNN – On Wednesday, Israeli forces arrested two citizens of Beit Awla, a Palestinian village west of Hebron, and set up two military checkpoints at the city’s north and south entrances. Local sources said the troops arrested Hakim Muslim Firashat and confiscated his motorcycle, but the other arrested citizen has not been identified.

66-year-old sentenced to 6 months in jail
NABLUS – The Israeli military court Ofer has sentenced Yousef Aref Muhammad, 66, from Nablus to six months in prison. The detainees’ center reported that Muhammad was detained for opposing the occupation, and it was not his first time in prison.

Israel grants reprieve to former Fatah fighters
Israel granted a reprieve Wednesday to 75 members of Fatah’s now-dormant armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Palestinian sources said. The former guerrilla fighters were all in various stages of an amnesty process established by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 2007. Under the deal, the fighters agreed to hand in their weapons and serve time in prison, in return for Israel’s agreement not to arrest or kill them. Some of the men were granted the right to sleep in their own homes instead of a security compound where they were told to report under the amnesty deal. Others were granted full amnesty and a return to civilian life.

Siege / Restriction of movement / Humanitarian

Palestinian-Israelis flock to West Bank for Eid
The parks, zoo and playgrounds of northern West Bank cities Qalqiliya, Jenin and Tulkarem were overwhelmed with visitors from the Palestinian cities and towns in Israel over the Eid Al-Adha holiday, giving a boost to the local economy … In Jenin, the Hadad resort was full of visitors locally known as “48 Palestinians,” with Israeli residency or citizenship, prompting locals to wonder why. “When all we want is to be able to reach the shores of Lake Tiberias or the beach at Haifa, like we used to do on holidays, why are so many coming here?” one local visitor at the resort asked.

Israel opens 2 Gaza crossings
Israel decided to open the Kerem Shalom crossing point in order to allow cooking gas and other fuels into the blockaded Gaza Strip on Thursday. PA liaison official Raed Fattuh said the Karni crossing would also be opened to allow 130 trucks carrying wheat and feed for animals into Gaza.

Racism and discrimination / Israeli injustice system

This racist’s salary is paid for by our taxes / Didi Remez
This morning’s Maariv runs a 1,000-word teaser for a weekend magazine interview with Safed’s Chief Rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu. If the name doesn’t ring a bell you should read the full translation at the bottom of this post. If you’ve been following the latest bout of anti-Arab racism in Israel in general – particularly the consequences of the Rabbinical decree proscribing the rental of apartments to Palestinian-Israeli students – nothing in the article will surprise you. Like most other reporting to date, there’s something missing from the most extensive interview with this racist in recent weeks – the fact that he’s a senior civil-servant.

Safed rabbi to be suspended for inciting war between Jews and Arabs
Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman asked Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman on Wednesday to begin the process of immediate suspension of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu from his post as municipal rabbi of Safed. Braverman wrote Neeman that Eliyahu, whose salary is paid by public funds, has been conducting a campaign of racism against the Arabs for years.

Haaretz editorial: Racism under cover of the Torah
Not only are some rabbis not acting according to guidelines, they are using public bodies to incite, inflame passions and provoke divisiveness in Israeli society … The justice minister, the religious services minister and the mayors where these rabbis serve must warn them that they are abusing their positions and even suspend them if necessary. Otherwise, they too will bear responsibility for turning Israeli society into a tool in the hands of religious racist fanatics.

The lesser of many evils: plea bargain of Ameer Makhoul and the Israeli legal system
Advocate Hussein Abu Hussein spoke to the Haifa Arabic-language daily Al-Ittihad about the plea bargain that was reached by the state prosecutor and the defendant of Ittijah’s Executive Director Ameer Makhoul. … According to official Israeli statistics, the percentage of convicted defendants in criminal cases in Israel ranges between 96% and 99% of the cases. When compared to the same official statistics in the state of New York, for example, according to which in 50% of the criminal cases brought to court the defendant is found guilty, the figure in Israel seems irrational. Furthermore, a closer study of the Israeli statistics shows that the percentage of convicted Arab citizens of the state of Israel in criminal courts is much higher than that of Jewish citizens.

Israel’s Justice Ministry to probe claims of Shin Bet torture and abuse
…More than 650 complaints of abuse and torture of examinees by Shin Bet investigators have been turned over to the government’s legal advisers since 2001. According to the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, in every one of these cases the Shin Bet’s internal examiner decided not to open a criminal investigation.

My flight out of Tel Aviv, with a $60 fee for an empty suitcase / Daoud Kuttab
For years I have succeeded to avoid it, but for some reason, I fell in the trap. I am not sure if my decision to fly out of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport rather than my usual starting point of Amman’s Queen Alia Airport was to see if things might have changes or some crazy sadistic desire to suffer on the hands of the Israeli airport security.

Political/Diplomatic news

US official: Israel must refrain from East Jerusalem construction during freeze
18 Nov – Shas has said that it will oppose U.S. exchange offer if Jerusalem is included in the 90-day freeze; U.S. official: Whatever Netanyahu told Shas about Jerusalem is not true.

About half Netanyahu’s party against new freeze (dpa)
JERUSALEM – Around half of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 27-member parliamentary caucus have signed a petition rejecting a new temporary freeze on construction in West Bank settlements, Israeli media reported Wednesday.

Abbas briefed on US plan for new freeze (AFP)
David Hale, assistant to US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, briefed Abbas on details of the plan at a meeting [Wednesday] in the West Bank town of Ramallah, the Palestinian political capital, presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said. It was the first time the Palestinians had been officially informed of details of the offer, which would grant Israel a package of diplomatic and security pledges in exchange for a fresh 90-day moratorium on new West Bank settlement building.

Abbas: We refuse any link between settlement freeze and arming Israel
Ramallah – PNN – Commenting on reports of an American deal circulated by Arab and international media, Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said on Thursday that Palestinians refused to be the means to further arm Israel.

Israel hopes to have US building freeze offer ‘soon’ (AFP)
JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes to receive written US commitments “soon” on incentives for a fresh freeze on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank, his office said Wednesday. Netanyahu “hopes to soon complete his contacts with the US administration,” his office said in a statement.

Netanyahu meets Yishai on freeze deal
Nov 17, 14:24 -Prime minister attempts to secure Shas’s support for freeze while rightists fight to protest before homes of ministers who refuse to take sides on issue,7340,L-3985944,00.html

Shas threatens Netanyahu
Nov 17, 21:01…The haredi party is demanding the exact details of housing construction to be permitted in Jerusalem during the moratorium in return for its support in the cabinet. Shas expects Netanyahu to present such details to the US and obtain its blessing — even if this is verbal alone. Shas is also demanding that Defense Minister Ehud Barak approve building in the West Bank immediately after the freeze period. Party representatives say that Barak has not signed any such permits since the current government was formed.,7340,L-3986263,00.html

Court asks why demos outside Shas MKs’ homes denied
The High Court of Justice on Thursday issued a show-cause order asking the state to explain why the police refused to grant a permit for a vigil outside the homes of Shas ministers Eli Yishai and Ariel Atias. The petition was filed by attorney Itzhak Bam on behalf of Ro’i David Reeder, who wanted to hold a protest outside their homes to pressure them into voting in the security cabinet against the three-month building freeze on Jewish settlements and illegal outposts which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants to impose.

Israel: Freeze deal with US nearly finalized
18 Nov – Government sources say Jerusalem, Washington close to agreement on American incentives package aimed at convincing hard-liners to back settlement construction moratorium. ‘Pressure on Bibi increasing daily,’ official says,7340,L-3986589,00.html

Poll: 51% of Israelis support renewing freeze
Over half of Israelis (51 percent) support an additional construction moratorium, according to a poll commissioned by the Knesset Channel, released Thursday. The survey also shows that 45% of the public oppose a freeze. In addition, 73% agree with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that any building freeze should not include Jerusalem.

Rightist rabbis back Lieberman for PM
In protest of freeze, rabbis dub Netanyahu a ‘fraud’, call on Shas not to abstain from vote ‘as in Oslo’,7340,L-3985825,00.html

Yaalon: Bibi taken captive by Barak
Rift between prime minister, deputy PM growing; Yaalon slams Bibi for ‘capitulating’ to US — Tensions between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his deputy Moshe (Bogi) Yaalon are “on the verge of explosion,” Likud sources say.,7340,L-3986152,00.html

IDF officers: Talks failure may cause Fatah collapse
IDF sources reportedly say Fatah government’s survival depends on peace talks’ progress … According to foreign reports, IDF military and intelligence officers warn that if no peace agreement is soon reached, the Fatah government may collapse, leaving the regime in the hands of Hamas – supported by Iran and Syria.,7340,L-3986210,00.html

Turkish ire is hurting Israel’s NATO ties / Amir Oren
To avoid angering the Turks, Israel has scrapped plans to take part in a NATO naval drill.

Other news

Israel grants PA 24-hour control of Nablus
NABLUS — Israel has transferred full security control of the West Bank city of Nablus, long considered a stronghold of Palestinian armed groups, to the Palestinian Authority, officials said Wednesday. Until recently, Western-backed PA troops controlled the city each day from sunup until midnight, when PA forces left their posts, allowing Israeli forces to operate freely in the city, raiding houses and arresting “wanted” Palestinians. From now on, if Israeli forces wish to invade the city, liaison officers from Israel’s Civil Administration will have to notify the PA and coordinate any operation in advance, Palestinian officials told Ma’an. Earlier on Wednesday, PA officials said their forces arrested Hamas members who were plotting to kill the governor of of Nablus, Jibrin Al-Bakri.

Al-Dhamiri denies Israeli reports of security transfer in Nablus
Brigadier-general and Palestinian military spokesman Adnan al-Dhamiri rejected recently leaked information from Israeli media, which claimed the security responsibility for the northern West Bank city of Nablus had been transferred to the Palestinian Authority … He said the Palestinian policy was to follow a 2000 agreement agreed upon under the Road Map to Peace.“We don’t deal piece by piece with the Israelis,” said al-Dhamiri … About the security arrangements, al-Dhamiri was brief. He said coordinating security with an occupier was “like coordinating between a prisoner and a guard.”

PA says it foiled Hamas plot to kill governor
NABLUS — Palestinian Authority forces arrested Hamas members who were plotting to kill the governor of the West Bank city of Nablus, Jibrin Al-Bakri, PA officials claimed Wednesday. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the group that hatched the alleged plot was based in Nablus with a network extending throughout the northern West Bank. PA forces raided the group’s headquarters, seizing weapons and cash, they said. The group were said to be members of Hamas’ armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, who were in direct contact with the Hamas-run government in Gaza.

Zahhar rebuts claim of attempted assassination of Nablus governor
GAZA, (PIC)– Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al Zahhar refuted Wednesday allegations by the Palestinian Authority security that his Movement was behind a plan to assassinate the mayor of the West Bank city of Nablus … Zahhar considered these claims as an attempt to justify Fatah faction’s escape from national reconciliation and continued abuse of Hamas supporters in the West Bank.

Haifa University bans Palestinian MK from campus event
MK Zoabi was scheduled to participate in a student Balad Party sponsored event at Haifa University Monday, focusing on the political situation over the past year, according to the Israeli news daily Haaretz. The students, who requested event permission in October and learned Sunday that Zoabi would not be allowed on campus, decided to hold the event anyway.

Half of Israelis don’t enlist or finish IDF service
Half of Israel’s citizens either don’t enlist in the IDF or fail to complete their army service, Army Radio reported on Thursday, quoting a report released by the IDF’s human resources department. According to the report, 67 % of those obligated to enlist in the IDF do so, a number that is expected to fall to 64 % by 2020.

Haniyeh: Christians share our pain, hope
Gaza-based Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Thursday reiterated his government’s “moral and national commitment” to the Palestinian Christian community. During a meeting with Bishop Alexios of the Greek Orthodox Church, Haniyeh reaffirmed the unity of the Palestinian people and “especially that our Christian brothers are sharing our pain and hope.”

very odd
Suspicion: Anarchists torched field near settlement
Security forces detain 12 people, including seven foreigners for allegedly setting fire to field near Bat Ayin; 12 acres destroyed … The grove has been set on fire three times over the past few weeks by anarchists.,7340,L-3986648,00.html

A new bill threatens Reform, Conservative movements
Knesset pushes two more legislative pieces that would drive Israel further from democracy — ACRI, which sent a sharp letter regarding the bill to Justice Minister Yaakov Ne’eman, termed the bill as an attempt at political persecution by one side of another. Among the societies who may be hit by the law, it cautioned, are “The Reform movement, the Conservative movement, and other movements of Jewish pluralism; any organization supporting, in any way, full civil equality to minorities in Israel, even under a democratic regime; any organization supporting refugee rights, or work emigrants’ rights, or Palestinian rights (regarding their status in Israel); companies or societies supporting or carrying out activities on Shabbat; societies who support people who left religious life (hozrim b’sheela) or women trying to have an abortion; societies working for freedom from religion or for women’s rights in rabbinical courts, or for women’s prayer at the Western Wall with talis; human rights organizations who act for Palestinians’ rights in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza; organizations trying to carry out educational activity which engages in dialogue with ‘the other’, trying to understand its history and point of view; and many more … The Israeli media has given the bill absolutely no coverage.

UN pay strike closes Palestinian schools in West Bank (BBC)
A strike by UN workers in the West Bank has entered its second month, forcing Palestinian children out of school and leaving rubbish piling on the streets. Local staff of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) are demanding strike pay – for this strike and an earlier one. The agency runs camps and schools for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank.

Palestinians meet Golan Druze in makeshift soccer friendly
Palestinian soccer association was established 15 years ago, with long interruptions in between due to the security situation at various times.

UK center releases historic map of Palestine
LONDON – The Palestinian Return Centre in London held a seminar Friday to release an atlas of Palestine between 1917 and 1966. The project is the work of Professor Salaman Abu Sita, who used official documents and maps collected from German, French, Turkish and British archives to outline the history, landscape and geography of Palestine, a statement from the centre said. In a presentation attended by MPs, journalists and researchers, Abu Sita analysed the ongoing mechanism of expulsion which began in 1947, the centre said.

Scientists dig below Dead Sea for slice of Earth’s history (AFP)
JERUSALEM – An international team of scientists has begun drilling deep below the Dead Sea in an effort to extract material that could provide an unusual look at Earth’s history over the past 500,000 years … In an unusual example of regional coordination, the governments of Israel and Jordan, which lies on the east bank of the Dead Sea, as well as the Palestinian Authority are cooperating with the project, which is expected to run until the end of this year.

Analysis / Opinion / Reviews

With Netanyahu bribe, Washington going for broke / Jonathan Cook
So far, in attempting to resolve the conflict, Obama has nearly exhausted his political capital. There were intimations this week that the White House could not afford further humiliation and was going for broke … Washington’s hopeful logic is that a renewal of the freeze will be unnecessary in three months because an agreement on borders will already have established whether a settlement is to be considered included in Israel’s territory and therefore permitted to expand or inside Palestine and therefore slated for destruction.

Settlements are destroying Zionism / Ari Shavit
The right is loonier than ever and about to turn Israel into South Africa … The conclusion is unequivocal – if Israel wants to live it must release itself from the loony right’s stranglehold.

Review: The burden of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 2010, Adva Center
The Adva Center, an Israeli think tank dedicated to studying equality and social justice, recently published its second issue of a bi-annual report entitled, The Burden of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The report seeks to examine the costs of occupation on Israel in economic, social, military, political, and diplomatic terms and concludes that Israel would be richer socially and economically if it ended the occupation. In its own words,

Expert suggests sovereignty for Gaza as talks stall / Glenn Kessler
With Israeli-Palestinian peace talks mired in stalemate, someone has come up with a truly provocative idea: Give Gaza sovereignty. Gaza, of course, is the Palestinian enclave now run by Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist group. It is the subject of an Israeli quarantine and been largely forgotten as the Obama administration presses ahead with a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank.

Book Review: Mechanisms of state discrimination
State Practices and Zionist Images: Shaping Economic Development in Arab Towns in Israel, by David A. Wesley. 2008. This is a book of major importance by an Israeli anthropologist. It analyzes the relations between Jewish and Arab towns in the Galilee during the period 1992-1997 when an industrial area close to Nazareth called Zipporit was being developed. It also examines the role of central and local government bureaucracies in the planning process. Israeli bureaucracy is formidable in its ability to block development, but where the Arab minority is concerned there are additional factors at work.

Book review: An Israeli academic’s struggle against McCarthyism
The Israeli historian Ilan Pappé’s new memoir Out of the Frame (Pluto Press, London and New York, 2010) is subtitled “The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel.” This manages to link Pappé’s personal struggle against Israeli McCarthyism with a broader struggle for human and political rights of which “academic freedom” is merely one aspect.


Wednesday: 3 Iraqis killed
While the Eid al-Adha observances may still be cutting the number of reports, two significant stories did come out of Iraq today. In the first, President Talabani has taken a stand against executing Tariq Aziz. The second deals with the continuing problems of government formation. Only three casualties were reported today, all of them deaths.

Talabani against Aziz execution
Iraqi president says he will not sign execution order for Tariq Aziz, the former foreign minister under Saddam Hussein. “No, I will not sign the execution order for Tariq Aziz, because I am a socialist,” Talabani told French television France 24 in an interview on Wednesday.”I sympathise with Tariq Aziz because he is an Iraqi Christian. Moreover he is an old man who is over 70,” he said.

Other Mideast

Israel approves Ghajar pullout
Israel has approved a plan to withdraw troops from the northern half of a divided village that straddles the country’s border with Lebanon. The 15-member security cabinet of Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, passed the northern Ghajar pullout in a vote on Wednesday, but did not set a date … The village, which lies in a strategic corner where the boundaries between Syria, Israel and Lebanon meet, has already changed hands three times in the last century. Israel captured it from Syria in 1967 … as Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports, Israel is negotiating the agreement with the UN, without consulting Lebanon or the villagers themselves. The villagers are originally Syrian and feel no affiliation with Lebanon. Video:

‘Israel wants UN to declare it free of Lebanon border violations’ / Barak Ravid
Israel will ask the United Nations to announce that once the Israel Defense Forces withdraws from the northern section of Ghajar, it will no longer be in violation of the international border with Lebanon, a senior Israeli official told Haaretz Wednesday … Israel is seeking the UN’s official recognition to prevent Lebanese factions from raising further territorial demands, such as the future of the Shaba Farms area on Mount Dov.

Report: Unilateral land transfer angers villagers
Residents of a small village in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights told reporters they were furious on Wednesday, following a unilateral decision by the Israeli government to hand half of the town over to Lebanon.  [See photo with caption: “Family members watch an Israeli-Druse bride from the village of Buqata in the occupied Golan Heights. The bride walks through the buffer zone at the Kuneitra Crossing, manned by UNIFIL forces. Crossing over into Syria, the bride will not likely see her family again.” Also see film The Syrian Bride on this subject]

Israel finally leaves tiny village straddling Middle East’s political fault line / Donald Macintyre in Ghajar
…Yigal Palmor, Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, insisted that there is “no intention” physically to divide the village, and that residents – most of whom have been Israeli citizens since the occupation of the Golan Heights in 1967 – have nothing to fear. “We hope to preserve their daily lives without any changes,” he added. But the assurances seem unlikely to satisfy residents, in the absence of direct guarantees or consultation.

Villagers protest Israeli withdrawal plan
(dpa) Residents of the southern border town of Ghajar have decided to protest the Israeli decision to withdraw from the northern part of the village, Lebanese media reported Wednesday. Local council representative Najib Khatib said in radio interviews that the entry of UN troops “into the northern part of the village will be over the corpses of its residents.”

War overshadows Eid al-Adha
RIYADH (AFP) — Muslims around the world on Tuesday marked Eid al-Adha with prayers and ritual sacrifices, but celebrations in some countries were overshadowed by war, natural disaster and soaring livestock prices. Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, honours Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael on the order of God, who according to Islamic tradition provided a lamb in the boy’s place.

Amnesty: Egypt should probe torture death allegation
CAIRO (AFP) — Amnesty International said on Tuesday that Egypt should immediately investigate allegations that a teenager was killed in detention in the same district another man died after being beaten by police. Relatives of 19-year-old Ahmed Shabaan say he was tortured to death by police in the Sidi Gaber district in the port city of Alexandria and his corpse thrown into a canal.

Mass arrests ahead of Egyptian election (AFP)
CAIRO — Egyptian police have rounded up about 600 Muslim Brotherhood members ahead of this month’s parliamentary election and some 250 are still detained, a senior Brotherhood official said Tuesday.

Outspoken Egyptian blogger released
Kareem Suleiman freed after serving four-year sentence for his online writings about religion. — Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, reportedly the first blogger in Egypt to face trial for his online writings, has been freed from prison after being held 10 days beyond his intended release date.Suleiman, who was imprisoned for more than four years, has declined to speak publicly since he was released on Monday, according to the website of the campaign organised to support him.

U.S. and other world news

US activists face new repression
For decades the United States government has attempted to criminalize work in the Palestinian community in support of their national liberation cause. But in recent years this repression has increased dramatically. The Electronic Intifada spoke with the daughter of Sami al-Arian and the daughter of Ghassan Elashi — both political prisoners in the US — about the impact this repression has had on their families’ lives. And in an Electronic Intifada exclusive, Hatem Abudayyeh, an organizer and community leader whose home in Chicago was raided by federal agents on 24 September 2010, spoke to the press for the first time about his family’s story.

New York’s Muslims, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Israel / Alex Kane
Ever since Lawrence Swaim of the California-based Interfaith Freedom Foundation articulated his valuable insight to me that the question of Israel courses through Jewish-Muslim relations, I’ve been coming across stories that fit into that theme.  In general, strong support for Israel correlates with an aversion to understanding legitimate Palestinian, Arab and Muslim grievances about the United States and Israel, and given the dehumanization of Palestinians (the majority of them Muslims) that pervades Israeli and U.S. society, it’s no surprise that Israel is a big roadblock in Jewish-Muslim relations.  You have to place the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s opposition to Park 51 in lower Manhattan in that context.

Thanksgiving in Beirut / Maya Mikdashi
On November 25, people from across the United States will gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving … Like all ideologically inflected nationalist myths, holidays such as Thanksgiving or Columbus Day both commemorate and mask the histories of violence that build and sustain nations. Such masking enables us to know that people lived on and were removed from the land but also allows us to disregard the fact that the descendants of those people still live in the reservations their ancestors were forced onto through acts of genocide. On November 25, people from across the United States will be, unwittingly or not, celebrating the ongoing success of settler colonialism.

Baiting a faith in Oklahoma / Micharl Gerson – WaPo
Just to be on the safe side, voters in Oklahoma this month overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that prevents the Talibanization of the Sooner State. Henceforth, there will be no public stonings in Ponca City, no forced burqa wearing in Bartlesville, no sharia law in Lawton. Even supporters of the referendum – which forbade state courts from considering sharia in their deliberations – admitted that the threat from Oklahoma’s 30,000 Muslims couldn’t be called “imminent.” “It’s not a problem and we want to keep it that way,” explains state Sen. Anthony Sykes. Sharia law, according to state Rep. Rex Duncan, is a “cancer that must be removed with a preemptive strike.”

Oklahoma Univ. student government votes to condemn Shariah law ban
NORMAN – The University of Oklahoma’s Undergraduate Student Congress on Tuesday condemned Oklahoma’s recent ban on international and Shariah law. With two members abstaining, the other 23 members of the Student Congress voted unanimously in favor of a resolution stating that the recent passage of State Question 755 hurts OU’s ability to function on the international stage and when recruiting international students.

Tanzanian cleared of terror charges in key Guantanamo trial (AFP)
NEW YORK – A Tanzanian man accused in the 1998 bombings of two US embassies was cleared of terror charges Wednesday, but could still face life in prison in a dramatic end to the first civilian trial of a former Guantanamo Bay inmate. A jury in New York federal court returned the surprise verdict after five days of deliberations, finding Ahmed Ghailani not guilty on all but one of 286 charges. He was found guilty only of conspiracy to destroy US property,

Hague’s Guantanamo plea overshadows Middle East talks / David Usborne in Washington
A day after announcing it was to pay millions in tax-payers’ money to compensate a group of 16 men who were detained and allegedly tortured by American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, the ][U.K.] Government last night implored the US to free the last Briton remaining there.

Britain to settle rendition torture case for millions
The British government will reportedly pay millions in compensation to seven British nationals who were unlawfully “rendered” to U.S.-run prisons and tortured with the cooperation of British intelligence. The British press is reporting that ministers and the security services appear to have decided that exposure of thousands of documents in open court was a risk they could not take.

The obstacles to reporting the truth about war / Serene Assir
The phenomenon of over-exposure with little or no interest in context and other aspects of ethical journalism is not the only problem that media workers and human rights activists have to face in the West. Other subjects are treated with complete silence. Among the topics highlighted by Arce and Diaz are Egypt’s increasingly powerful workers’ movement and the systematic violation of human rights in Syria. “Stories on Palestine are manipulated but at least the topic is now on the agenda,” said Arce. Meanwhile, Diaz added, “The list of issues that never make it into Western media is long and varied.

Eisenhower on the opportunity cost of defense spending
Dwight David Eisenhower, “The Chance for Peace,” speech given to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Apr. 16, 1953: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat….”

Michael Bloomberg and New York’s Muslims: a lesson in how Israel courses through

Jewish-Muslim relations

Nov 18, 2010

Alex Kane


gaza bloomberg

(Protesters throw shoes at a portrait of Mayor Michael Bloomberg after the mayor’s trip to Israel while Operation Cast Lead raged on. PHOTO: Zahra Hankir)

Ever since Lawrence Swaim of the California-based Interfaith Freedom Foundation articulated his valuable insight to me that the question of Israel courses through Jewish-Muslim relations, I’ve been coming across stories that fit into that theme. In general, strong support for Israel correlates with an aversion to understanding legitimate Palestinian, Arab and Muslim grievances about the United States and Israel, and given the dehumanization of Palestinians (the majority of them Muslims) that pervades Israeli and U.S. society, it’s no surprise that Israel is a big roadblock in Jewish-Muslim relations. You have to place the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s opposition to Park 51 in lower Manhattan in that context.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been busy reporting on how Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City is perceived by the Muslim community here–which is at about 800,000 strong–in the wake of Bloomberg’s admirable defense of the mosque and community center near Ground Zero. (The fruits of my labor are here at the Gotham Gazette.) A lot of different issues came up in my discussions with Muslim community leaders in New York City, but Bloomberg’s staunch support for Israel came up in a number of interviews. Bloomberg’s role in not standing up for Debbie Almontaser, the founding and former principal of the city’s first dual-language Arabic school who was felled by a right-wing smear campaign, also had something to do with Israel, as Kiera Feldman points out in this excellent article. Bloomberg’s relationship with the Muslim community is one prominent symbol of the role Israel plays in the challenge of forging strong Jewish-Muslim solidarity, all the more important in a time of rising Islamophobia that bears many of the same hallmarks that characterized anti-Semitism.

In early 2009, around the same time that the massacre of the al-Samouni family occurred in Gaza, Mayor Bloomberg flew in to Israel on his private jet along with NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelley and Representative Gary Ackerman. Bloomberg went to Sderot, the Israeli town that saw many rockets from Gaza rain down, and laid the blame for the Israeli assault on Hamas: “That they are putting people at risk is an outrage. If Hamas would focus on building a country instead of trying to destroy another one, then those people would not be getting injured or killed.”

This trip enraged the Arab and Muslim community in New York City. Shortly after Bloomberg’s trip, Palestine solidarity activists organized a rally outside of City Hall, throwing shoes at a portrait of Bloomberg.

“His relationship with Israel, supporting Israel with no limits, hurts us,” Zein Rimawi, a member of the New York City-based Arab Muslim American Federation, recently told me. “Don’t forget: We are Arabs, we are Muslims, and the people in Gaza are Arabs and Muslims and we support them.”

Bloomberg made many New York Muslims happy with his defense of Park 51. But Israel looms large, and it’s obvious that his disregard for the suffering of the people in Gaza dealt substantial damage to his relationship with the New York City Muslim community. Take the relationship between Bloomberg and Muslims as a lesson that those interested in forming stronger Jewish-Muslim coalitions must deal with the question of Israel. Fighting Islamophobia and the right-wing Zionist project of expelling Palestinians from their historic homeland depends on strong Jewish-Muslim solidarity.

Alex Kane blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia in the United States at, where this post originally appeared.  Follow him on Twitter here.

Hasan’s dilemma

Nov 18, 2010

James North


Despite the efficiency of crime labs in TV dramas, or the storied deductions of Sherlock Holmes, law enforcement officials will tell you that most criminals are caught by informants. This truth extends to international terrorism. The recent effort to place explosives on cargo aircraft headed to the United States was apparently foiled by a tip-off. A year ago, the underwear bomber was actually turned in by his own father, but the U.S. embassy in Lagos, Nigeria, failed to take proper action.

Former CIA operative Robert Baer published a memoir some years ago, See No Evil, (which was part of the basis for the 2005 film Syriana). Baer includes a tantalizing portrait of one of his best informants, who he calls Hasan, a man who walked into the U.S. embassy in Beirut in 1987 and offered to help.

Hasan risked his life by actually joining Hizballah, and passing information to Baer at clandestine safe spots around Beirut. At their first meeting, Baer had asked him why he decided to meet with the CIA. “I can’t stand the murder of innocent people,” he replied. “What Hizballah does is wrong.”

Hasan’s actions cry out for more explanation, but Baer unfortunately drops the subject. Hasan must have lived with an intense internal struggle. On the one hand, his human, ethical beliefs, quite probably based on his Muslim religion and culture, prompted him to repudiate Hizballah’s hostage-taking and violence. On the other, American warships regularly shelled his city, and America’s ally, Israel, had invaded his nation a few years earlier, bringing death and destruction.

No doubt Hasan’s agonizing dilemma is played out today in many parts of the world. You are living, say, in a suburb of Karachi, or in Jeddah, or in Britain. You notice suspicious activity by relatives, or neighbors. You are uncomfortable. You turn on your television. First, you see a speech by President Barack Obama, reassuring you that America does not regard Islam as the enemy.

Then, the latest news from Palestine. Occupying Israeli soldiers shoot and kill nonviolent demonstrators, and uproot olive groves.

Next, you learn that hateful people in America are willing to violate the U.S. Constitution to block the construction of a peaceful mosque in downtown Manhattan.

But you also see film footage about the Mavi Marmara, with people from all over the world, including some Israelis, willing to risk (and lose) their lives to help Gaza.

The suspicious activity continues around you. What will you do?

Protesting the Hebron Fund, I remember a long afternoon at a segregated swimming hole

Nov 18, 2010

Seán O’Neill


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(Protesters in New York. Photo: Vanissa W. Chan)

Hebron Fund held its annual fundraiser in New York Tuesday night. A report from O’Neill, a former member of Christian Peacemaker Teams in the South Hebron Hills, who attended the protest:

I was just leaving Hebron’s Old City one day in August 2009 when a friend of mine, Hamzi, invited me to go swimming. 

He and a few other guys were going for a dip in Abraham’s Well, an ancient spring located in Tel Rumeida, essentially the only neighborhood in the West Bank city where Palestinians and Israeli settlers physically encounter one another on a daily basis.

Whereas in the Old City a complex system of barricades, roadblocks, and checkpoints keeps Palestinians caged in and under the settlement pockets, in Tel Rumeida there is some level of mutual access, albeit unequal and under the watchful eye of Israeli soldiers.

It was a hot, sticky day, and the thought of taking a dip in the cool undeground waters of Abraham’s Well sounded superb.  After a long circuitous route, unable to cross Shuhada St., Hebron’s main thoroughfare banned from use by Palestinians, we reached an olive grove just above the well.  In our enthusiasm, we didn’t notice the four Israeli soldiers sitting above it until they came running, screaming at us, rifles aimed in our direction.  Hamzi explained that we were just on our way down to swim.  The soldiers replied that there were a couple Jewish girls there swimming, so we’d have to wait.  We began to sit down in the shade of the olive tree next to the soldiers when a soldier began yelling again, shooing us with his free hand, indicating that we were too close. 

“He acts like were dogs,” Hamzi muttered to himself as we moved back a few trees. 

Occasionally we would crane our necks over the terraced rocks to see if the girls were leaving yet.  Noticing this, the soldier berated us again, instructing us to face the other direction, so as not to offend the young women, who by now, done swimming, were having a picnic next to the well.  Hamzi and the others stared for a moment, absorbing this latest humiliation, before turning away, powerless.  We sat there for about an hour in the midday heat, sweating profusely, debating whether it was worth the wait.  Finally one of us, sneaking a look, noticed the girls leaving.  We jumped up happily and asked the soldiers if we could now swim. 

“No,” one said.  “There’s someone else coming.”  Indeed, two young Jewish boys had now approached the well and began to disrobe.

“But we’ve been here over an hour,” Hamzi protested.  “It’s a hot day.  If we have to wait for every Jew in Hebron to swim we’ll never get a turn.” 

“Maybe not,” the soldier said, matter-of-factly.

And so we left, hot and irritated.  There wasn’t a physical attack or a home bulldozed.  No one was arrested or tear gassed.  Just another of the thousand daily humiliations that is apartheid Hebron.  That was the last day I was in Hebron, and the last time I saw Hamzi, although I didn’t realize it at the time.  Shortly thereafter I flew home for a visit and returning a month later discovered I had been banned from re-entry.

Tuesday night in New York was windy, cold and dark, a far cry from that blistering day in August.  Strange in a way to think that the men in women in suits and gowns at Chelsea Piers making their way to a dinner cruise on the Hudson River had any connection at all to that conflicted place thousands of miles away.  Hamzi and some 160,000 Palestinians in Hebron settled down to bed after celebrating another Eid al Adha in the grip of a suffocating occupation. 

Here in New York husbands and wives and their families parked their cars and walked breezily past the indoor soccer fields to a feast of their own, making tax-exempt donations to bankroll Hamzi’s oppression.  Tuesday night was the annual dinner of the Hebron Fund, founded in 1979 to raise money for the Hebron settlements.  According to the Washington Post, the Hebron Fund and similar organizations have donated $33.4 million since 2004 to the settlement enterprise.  Settlements, keep in mind, are illegal according to international law. 

This year’s dinner, held on a boat, was styled as the Hebron Aid Flotilla, a perverse celebration of the murder of nine human rights activists by Israeli commandos on the flotilla to Gaza this past May.

The event, however, did not go unnoticed.  A couple hundred people gathered at the piers’ entrance in not one, but two protests.  On the one hand was a coalition of Palestinian, Jewish, and anti-occupation groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, Veterans for Peace, Women in Black, Code Pink, and Adalah NY, among others.  They stood in a mostly silent vigil with signs reading “End the Siege of Hebron”, “Remove the Settlers”, and “Free Gaza”. 

On the other, about 40 feet away, was a protest staged by J Street U, the college branch of the advocacy group which styles itself as pro-Israel, pro-peace.  They held Israeli flags and lamented the settlements as an obstacle to a two-state solution.  A participant in the J Street protest, Moriel Rothman said of the two protests, “I think that we’re working in parallel.  Ultimately we probably want similar things but have different tactics in how to get there.”

An attendee of the fundraiser, who chose to remain anonymous, brushed the protests off, saying, “If you look at the amount of energy that goes into protesting Jewish misconduct, it is disproportionate.  The world holds Jews to a higher standard.”  He added, referring to the Jewish protesters, “They are introspective.  You very seldom see that amongst the Palestinians.”

My first thought at seeing the two different protests was one of dismay.  Had the ideology of separation reared its ugly head even here, among the dissenters?  On second thought however, in a context in which meaningful dissent has been muffled for so long, a bit of pluralism may not be bad.  The groups didn’t agree on tactics, or symbols, or what a solution to the conflict will look like.  However, if there is an emerging consensus that the Hebron settlements, at least, are beyond the pale, that on a hot summer day Palestinian residents shouldn’t have to navigate around Jew-only roads to find that the well is closed to Arabs, that just might be progress.

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Upcoming Events

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BDS Movement

A respectful dialogue on BDS—whether you already have a position on it or you want to clarify for yourself the complex issues it raises.  This event will provide an opportunity to hear from people who disagree about whether BDS is an appropriate and effective strategy.



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Posted in Nova Newsletter1 Comment



Does Michael Gove know what he is doing?

Every time Michael Gove opens his mouth, a new policy tumbles out. Over the last few weeks he has made increasingly desperate announcements about the spread of Academies across our schools.
·         On the 4th November Michael Gove announced that the government would use its powers to turn schools in Special Measures into Academies.
·         On Friday 12th November the FT reported that the White Paper, expected during November, would pave the way for every school to be directly funded from the government,meaning every school would effectively become an Academy.
·         But then on Wednesday 17th November the press reported that Gove was inviting every school to become an Academy, as long as they were partnered with an ‘Outstanding’ school.
Whichever one of Michael Gove’s proposals ends up in the White Paper it is clear that we will have to build the biggest possible campaign involving parents, unions, local councillors and MPs to stop his educational vandalism.

More Does Michael Gove know what he is doing?

Stoke Newington School Academy proposal ‘postponed’

The Academy consultation in Stoke Newington has been ‘postponed’ following a big campaign by parents and staff to reject the proposal.
The campaign involved an indicative ballot by NUT members for strike action w hich saw an 83% vote for action.

There had been an active campaign by parents to win the consultation, which they believe they would have done.

MoreStoke Newington Academy consultation ‘postponed’

·         Gove tight-lipped, but relishes prospect of next landmark reform

·         Harris Academy rejects disabled girl

·         Should Free Schools make a profit?

·         Unclear funding arrangements, anonymous donors and questionable political independence

More news stories here
Anti Academies Alliance Financial Appeal

The Anti Academies Alliance has launched a Financial Appeal to help build the opposition to Academies and ‘Free’ Schools.
Read our Appeal, and download the leaflet, here
How can the Anti Academies Alliance help your school?

We continue to be approached by schools asking us to help them campaign against Academy proposals that are being pushed on them.
The Anti Academies Alliance is happy to work with head teachers, governors, parents and staff to develop a campaign to prevent your school becoming an Academy.
Please contact the office if you need help.
CASE conference
Campaign for State Education conference Saturday 20th November.  
TUC conference: The future for our schools
The TUC have organised a major conference on education on Saturday 27th November.
More details and registration here
Anti Academies Alliance AGM

The Anti Academies Alliance AGM will be held on Saturday 15th January in Central London. More information to follow.
Anti Academies Newspaper
Over 60,000 newspapers have now been despatched around the country and are being distributed to parents, teachers, governors.
Please download the order form and post in your order here

Or email in your order and we will send you an invoice.
Anti Academies DVD
We have an excellent new 13 minute DVD outlining the case against Academies and ‘Free’ Schools.
It is perfect for union meetings / parent meetings / campaign meetings.
If you would like a copy they are £10 to union groups / £2 to parent and campaign groups. Send orders to the office and we will despatch them with an invoice.
Campaign materials
Make your campaign stall / meeting complete with Stickers / Balloons / Mugs / T Shirts
Having trouble keeping up with the news on Academies and Free Schools?
You can follow the Anti Academies Alliance on
Facebook –!/pages/Anti-Academies-Alliance/178831804728?ref=ts

Twitter –
Summary of Twitter news –
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Posted in EducationComments Off on ANTI-ACADEMIES



BDS, Settlements and Activism: News from the Other Front

03 October 2010
Michael Warschawski, Alternative Information Center (AIC)

Michel Platini, we are with you!


The legendary football player Michel Platini, today President of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), sharply criticized Israeli policy concerning Palestinian sports, and determined that it involves serious violations of the accepted rules of international sports associations.


He even added that cancellation of Israel’s membership in UEFA would be considered. “We accepted them (the Israelis) in Europe and furnished them the conditions for membership and they must respect the letter of the laws and international regulations otherwise there is no justification for them to remain in Europe,” he said.

At the conclusion of a meeting with head of the Palestinian football union, Jibril Rajoub, who protested the difficulties that Israel makes for Palestinian football players, Platini added “I will use my full weight to put an end to the suffering of the Palestinian player, and will raise this issue in the next meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee, in October 2010. Platini rejected a compromise on this issue: “Israel has one option: to allow Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences of their behaviour.” Platini’s anger derived primarily from the refusal of Israel to release from the ports aid that he himself sent to Palestinian sports unions.

Dani Ayalon on the boycott of settlement products


Deputy Foreign Minister Dani Ayalon is not the brightest, to say the least, but he is most assertive about his diplomatic initiatives, as seen a while back by his bragging about humiliating the Turkish Ambassador to Israel. To his credit will be the beginning of the end of the strategic alliance between Turkey and Israel.


However, at times Ayalon lets something political slip, and recently he spoke of the decision of the Palestinian Authority to initiate a popular boycott of Israeli settlement products. As a big thinker of international economics, the deputy minister ruled that the result of the settlement products boycott is a slowing of the Palestinian economy’s growth. How? Why? He did not explain but if Dani Ayalon says, it must be true.


Peace sukkah in Sheikh Jarrah


In the recent Jewish holiday of Sukkot (Feast of the Tabernacles), the movement for solidarity with Sheikh Jarrah initiated the building of a peace sukkah (booth, a temporary dwelling for the one week holiday) near the settlers in the neighbourhood. Various cultural and educational activities, some with Palestinian activists from the neighbourhood, were supposed to be conducted in the sukkah.


It should be noted that within the movement for solidarity with Sheikh Jarrah is a substantial percentage of religious Jews, who in the past initiated in the area actions connected to the Jewish tradition, such as forgiveness rituals before Yom Kippur, a joint Palestinian-Israeli Shabbat dinner and more. Building of the sukkah was yet another initiative in this spirit.


This did not prevent the inspectors of the Jerusalem Municipality of Mayor Nir Barkat from coming and destroying the sukkah and, after activists built it again, from destroying it a second and third time.


The fact that throughout Jerusalem there are hundreds of shaky sukkahs in public spaces, with no special licenses, did not prevent Barkat’s inspectors from following his orders, and neither did the fact that nearby stood a sukkah of the settlers in a public place, having no license. Hillel Ben Sasson, one of the initiators of the sukkah, attempted to convince the supervisors and police officers who accompanied them: “we thought that the idea of a sukkah, a temporary dwelling, fits superbly with the situation of the Sheikh Jarrah residents.


The residents themselves were very excited and prepared the sukkah decorations with the children. We really established this sukkah for the holiday.” Yet what does Barkat, who each day vainly waves Judaism, know about a sukkah?


Freezing or no freezing


Will Netanyahu announce a continuation of the freeze or not? Will Barak Obama find a formula that will prevent Abu Mazen from leaving the talks? Will the Chairperson of the Palestinian Authority finally lose the little credibility he has in the eyes of his people?


It has been a long time since international politics and press has been so preoccupied with the virtual world: everyone knows, including Mahmoud Abbas himself, that there was no freezing of settlement construction and expansion. It is enough to walk around not only East Jerusalem, but throughout the West Bank to understand that the settlement project did not cease for even a second. There is building, building and more building. And sometimes there is even moving into the settlements, although the database of new settlers is drying up.



Until when will the international community and Palestinian Authority continue to play “as if”? And more importantly, until when will the Palestinians allow them to continue playing this crooked game?


Abu Mazen expressed it well at the United Nations General Assembly, when he said the choice is between the peace process and the settlement process. There is no sign and no announcement according to which the most right-wing government in Israel’s history will freeze the settlements. Why, therefore, does he continue this play in which he does not determine even one line in the dialogue, and does not choose to tell the American president that he will return to the negotiating table only when the last Israeli bulldozer has been turned off? 

Posted in CampaignsComments Off on BDS, SETTLEMENT & ACTIVISM




By Rela Mazali

Two recently published items present what I see as telling, if limited and even evasive, probes into the extent and depth of Israel’s militarization, each revealing a different manifestation of it.

The first (truncated in the English version which omitted the passages of personal testimony from soldiers and police, included in the Hebrew original) looks at the confusing, contradictory maze of authorities in charge of the checkpoints that monitor the passage of West Bank Palestinians into Israel. Chaim Levinson erroneously calls these Green Line checkpoints, despite the placement of some of them inside the West Bank, as part of Israel’s ongoing drive to re-draw the Green Line to its convenience.

These highly sensitive, loaded meeting points between Israeli authorities and the stateless, non-citizen Palestinians whom they control are, Levinson says, operated under an entangled-to-non-existent chain of accountability. He lays the blame with bureaucracy and extremely faulty administration.

These “checkpoints are … run by no fewer than six different agencies, and no single body coordinates their work. … Adding to the confusion … two different bodies are responsible for each checkpoint: One is in charge of operating it, while the other is responsible for security.”

Some of the bodies in question are no longer state agencies but, rather, privatized “security” contractors. Following detailed research on such contractors, [see Chapter 9],  I hold these private “security” firms, relatively new players in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to represent a new phase of militarization. Precisely because they serve to sow confusion and dilute transparency, they make a key contribution towards dissolving the state’s accountability for deploying organized violence.

Even without them, though, “Haaretz found that none of … [the relevant state] organizations were certain who has overall responsibility for these checkpoints.” Put more bluntly, no one is certain who is responsible therefore no one is responsible. While this may look like an exercise in logic, its practical implications have direct and horrific impacts on the thousands of lives and bodies being herded, literally, day by day, through these checkpoints. Rather than limiting or undermining the use of force wielded by the agencies in question, dissolved responsibility effectively gives them free or freer reign. Tangled bureaucracy, then, would seem to be a useful policy rather than “just” the result of inept administration.

Reign is indeed the key question arising from the second item. Whose is it? The “people’s” through our/their elected representatives? While journalist Ari Shavit insists that, “Even though Israel looks and acts like a banana republic, it is not a banana republic,” his item – in spite of itself – indicates the opposite; that militarization has already successfully destroyed the infrastructure of democracy in Israel.

More insinuation than information, more innuendo than fact, Shavit’s item sounds an apparently informed, “insider’s” opinion on what lays submerged under the iceberg-tip of a recent scandal concerning the appointment of Israel’s new Chief of Staff. By no means left-leaning, journalist Ari Shavit, writes that this scandal has revealed all of the following:

corruption was rampant in one of Israel’s most sensitive security establishments … some of the state’s most highly classified secrets were leaked in a reckless manner … The IDF’s arbitrary, tribal and unfair enforcement of moral norms has emptied them of content and deprived them of validity … Even when the chief of staff appeared before the General Staff at the moment of truth, he did not tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

He is discussing internal Israeli and organizational affairs. If all this is true within the confines of “the tribe,” what kind of conclusions are implied regarding the army’s corruption, recklessness, arbitrary tribal morality and lies in its dealings with Palestinians.

The whole truth, Shavit claims, has not yet emerged, intimating that he himself is privy to it or to parts of it. His piece, however, pointedly avoids disclosing it, while characterizing it as terrible enough to entail a series of very serious questions once it comes to light. Questions about “the media’s zealous protection of those in power” (which possibly includes his own evasiveness in the present piece), about the “powerful military-media combine [that] gained control of the public discourse by blocking and deflecting information.” About the High Commissioner of the Police who, Shavit hints, may be implicated. About the Attorney General and the military advocate general.

Shavit, who has criticized dissent at least as often if not more so than he has censured state policies, is presenting a very serious claim. His item describes a clandestine structure of deference to an exclusive group of high-ranking (ex-)soldiers on the part of all of Israel’s key democratic institutions and the best part of its mainstream media. A military regime or reign in all but name, this hasn’t even required a military coup to be put in place. It has been fully normalized and legitimized by Israel’s continuous militarization.

More Recent Articles


Posted in Middle EastComments Off on WHAT ”LOOKS & ACTS LIKE A BANANA REPUBLIC?



November 19, 2010 Quantcast



by Keith Johnson

Somewhere in America, a seventeen-year-old boy is living the last year of his life.   

He is in the first semester of his senior year.  His grades have been good, and he expects to have enough credits to finish school early.  He feels like he’s been in school his entire life.  But he has no regrets.  Along the way, he has made many friends.  He took up an interest in baseball and found that he had a talent for playing the drums.  He is in his prime.  He’s lean, fit and healthy.  His mind is sharp and he has an insatiable appetite for life. 

He has also fallen in love—for the first time.  She is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen.  He thinks about her all the time, and pines when she is not near.  When they are together, they share wild fantasies about how they’d like to start a family and go into business for themselves selling sporting goods.  He also wants to start a band—just for fun—and perform on the weekends at local venues. 

Today, an Army recruitment officer gave an inspirational speech at his high school.  The guy looked sharp in his clean, well-pressed uniform.  He had a shaved head and two full sleeves of colorful tattoos on his bulging, tanned biceps and forearms.  The boy had never considered a career in the military, but he did find a certain romance in it.  Apparently, so did his girlfriend.  As they left the gymnasium, she made a comment that unnerved him.

GIRL:  He was kind of cute.

BOY:  What?

GIRL:  Well, there’s something about a man in uniform.

BOY:  Really? 

GIRL:  Yeah…don’t get mad.

It was the first time he felt angry with her, and the first time they’d ever crossed words.  He was overcome with feelings of jealousy, which caused him to say a few things he would later regret. 

The drive on the way to her home was uncomfortable.  When they got there, she leaned over to kiss him.  But he did not reciprocate.  Instead, he clenched tightly to the steering wheel and stared straight ahead.  She stepped out of the car and slammed the door behind her as he screeched away from the curb.  It was their first fight.

When he gets home, he steps through the front door and sees his father—glaring at the television—watching another one of his boring news programs.

BOY:  What’s up, Dad?

DAD:  Same shit.  Goddamn Moozlims want to build a Mosque at Ground Zero.  Can you believe that shit?

BOY:  What’s a Mosque?

DAD:  A place where they train terrorists.

BOY:  Well…that’s no good.

DAD:  No…it ain’t.  I’m telling you, Son, if we don’t kill every last one of those Moozlims, they’re gonna take over the world.  They breed like rabbits.  Killing them all is the only way to stop them.  If we don’t, they’re gonna institute Sharia law right here in the good old USA.  And that’s no kind of world you want your kids growing up in.

BOY:  What’s Sharia law?

DAD:  The law of the jungle.  These savages like to cut people’s heads off…especially Christians.

BOY:  Yikes.

The boy retires to his room and clicks on the television.  Inglourious Basterds is on HBO.  He’s seen it before—many times—it’s one of his favorite movies.  Quentin Tarantino is his favorite director. Brad Pitt is his favorite actor. And this is his favorite scene: where the “Bear Jew” is about to bash in the brains of a Nazi with a baseball bat.

The boy reaches under his bed and grabs the baseball bat that he’s used to hit many home runs.  He looks it over as he works his hand across the wood.  He isn’t thinking about baseball.  He’s thinking about how he’d like to take that bat to the head of that military recruiter.  But he quickly dismisses the idea.  That would be foolish.  But, damn, he sure would like to bash someone’s head in right now.  How about one of them Moozlims?  Dad wouldn’t have a problem with that. 

BOY:  Yeah, now that’s a good idea.

After the movie, the boy puts “Call of Duty” into his X-Box.  He hasn’t played video games since he started dating.  It was a good distraction.  It kept him from obsessing over his girlfriend.  To his surprise, he found that he was still a pretty good shot.  In fact, it was as if he’d never stopped shooting.  Over the past few months, he’d been regretting all of the hours he wasted playing games.  But today, he wondered if it really was a waste of time?  What if he could put these skills to work in the real world?

The next day, he pays a visit to the Army recruitment office.  The same man who gave the speech at his high school gives him a warm welcome as he walks through the door.  He has a strong handshake.  The guy calls him “Brother.”  The boy likes that.  He never had a brother of his own. 

The recruiter puts the boy at ease with his quick wit and raunchy sense of humor.  He talks to the boy like a man, and the boy starts to feel like one.  The recruiter tells wild stories about his adventures overseas.  Then he rolled up his sleeves and shows the boy his tattoos.  There’s a wild story behind each one of them too.

Then they got down to business.  The recruiter tells the boy he could make up to $100,000 in his first year.

RECRUITER:  Free housing, free food, free travel, lots of vacation time, up to $70,000 in education bonuses and another $20,000 signing bonus.  Plus, you get free health care for life!

The boy is impressed, and then asks what the odds were that he would see any combat?  The recruiter assures him that he would never have to step foot on a battlefield if he didn’t want to.

BOY:  But I want to be on a battlefield.  What’s the point of being a soldier if you can’t fight?

The recruiter straightens up in his chair and then rises to his feet.  He gives the boy a stern and solid look. 

RECRUITER:  Brother…you don’t know how rare it is to find men of your courage.  Most guys who come in here are just looking to make some easy money.  But you’re different.  You’re a different breed altogether.

BOY:  I just don’t want Sharia law to come to America.

RECRUITER:  That ain’t gonna happen.  Not on my watch.  Not as long as I have brave men like you fighting alongside me.

The boy is hooked.  He was now a man, and about to become a very rich man in a very handsome uniform.  That was sure to impress his girlfriend. 

Later that night, the boy drives over to see his girl.  He apologizes to her and presents her with a bouquet of roses.  Then he tells her his plans.  She cries.

GIRL:  Is this all because of that stupid thing I said about that Army guy?

BOY:  Well, maybe in the beginning.  But if it weren’t for what you said, I would have probably passed up an opportunity of a lifetime.  Jobs are hard to find these days.  A few years in the Army will be good for both of us.  We’ll have plenty of money and all sorts of benefits.  Plus, they’ll pay my college tuition.  I can take business courses, accounting…everything.  I’m going to need to know all that stuff if we ever expect to open a business of our own.

GIRL:  But I’ll never get to see you.

BOY:  Not true.  The recruiter said I get lots of vacation time and free travel anywhere I want to go.

GIRL:  I don’t know.

BOY:  Please…I know what I’m doing.  But I need your blessing.

GIRL:  Well…I guess you would look cute in a uniform.  Way cuter than that ugly bald guy.

They laugh, and then they embrace.

Months pass.  He is now out of school and has just celebrated his 18th birthday.  He has passed his physical with flying colors and is preparing to be sworn in at the local VFW.

Dad is proud, and has already placed a “Proud Parent of a US Soldier” sticker in the back window of his F-150.  Mom is in tears, but she is proud of her son as well.  His girlfriend is taking pictures with her iphone.

After the ceremony, the boy walks up to the recruiter.  They shake hands.  The boy calls the recruiter by his first name and thanks him for all he’s done.  The recruiter seems different now, as if he’s turned into a whole new person.

RECRUITER:  Yeah…don’t mention it.  By the way, you should probably get used to calling me Sergeant.  OK, private?  Now, how’s about you start making yourself useful by helping to fold up these chairs.

The next day, he prepares to board a bus.  He’s on his way to boot camp.  He is no longer a free man.  He is property of the United States Army.  He embraces his parents for the last time.  He gives his girlfriend her last kiss.  Then he boards the bus, never to be seen again.

Several months pass.  It’s Thanksgiving Day in Afghanistan.  The boy has learned that real combat is not like the kind waged on an X-Box.  The opponents are a lot harder to kill.  In fact, they’re way better shots than he could ever hope to be.  These guys have never had toys to play with.  They’ve been playing with real guns that they’ve been building from scratch since they were five years old. 

There’s no pause button either, and you have to work a lot more body parts than your index finger and thumbs.  

It’s hot, and he hasn’t bathed in a week. 

He’s never heard screams like the screams he’s heard here.  He’s never heard women cry the way they do here.  He’s never seen children’s body parts carried away in the mouths of skinny dogs.

Then there’s the stench…that goddamn stench.  He’ll never be able to shake that stench.  War has a unique smell.  It’s like gasoline mixed with blood, urine and shit.  It hangs in the air.  You can see it.  Sometimes your mind plays tricks on you.  You can almost swear that the stench clouds are taking on a life of their own.  You see faces in the smoke, like demons or ghosts.

He came here to kill Muslims.  But now that he’s here, he doesn’t want to kill anybody.  He just wants to stay alive…and go home as soon as he can.

He’s forgotten all about Sharia law.  There is no law here at all.  Right now, he’d welcome any kind of law that would bring order out of all this chaos.

Something just bounced off his chest.  Was it a bug?  It stings.  He feels like he just wet his pants, but he knows he didn’t pee.  Is it sweat?  He feels down around his waist.  He looks at his fingers.  There’s blood.  He refuses to believe that he’s been shot.  There must be another explanation.  Then he feels a shooting pain, as if he’s been run through with a sword.  He feels around his back for evidence of some kind of metal shank.  But there is none.

BOY:  Mommy, I need to come home.  Can you come and get me?  What the fuck am I saying?

He’s tired.  He feels like a million insects are crawling around in his body.  Maybe they’re there to help.  Maybe they’re putting things back together.

BOY:  Thanks, guys.  Wake me up when…

He feels detached from his body.  It is moving on its own.  He is cold.  He lies on his back and reaches for a blanket that isn’t there.  He stares into the stench and breathes deeply.  Now he’s urinating…and he’s deficating as well.

As he lays there dying, he isn’t thinking about patriotism, causes, America or any of that shit.  This was a big mistake…and he wasn’t prepared to make this sacrifice.  He never was.

Before the light goes out in his eyes, the last image that flashes through his mind is a crisp vision of the beautiful girl he left behind, and the last word that passes from his lips is…”Why?”

The following week, a 68-year-old Senator in Washington D.C. has just finished his breakfast.  He scolds his maid for putting sugar in his coffee.  He’s on his way to the floor of the Senate to introduce legislation that would increase the troop strength in Afghanistan.  He climbs in to the back of a Lincoln Towncar.  He’s making one stop on the way to the Capitol.  He has an appointment at the spa for a rub down and a manicure.

Across town, a 61-year-old Republican Congressman ducks out the back door of his mistress’s townhouse.  He’s in a hurry to meet with a lobbyist from AIPAC. 

In Texas, a 64-year-old former US President, that lied his nation into a war with Iraq, tees up a golf ball at an exclusive country club.

In New York City, an arrogant, 61-year old political commentator for FOX News prepares to do a demonization piece on Islam.  In the meantime, he lurches over a young female intern at the water cooler and creeps her out with his unsolicited flirtations. 

None of these old men have seen a day of combat, but they’ve sure been responsible for many deaths. 

They all had a nice Thanksgiving.  All the kids were there.  It was a nice break from all that hard work getting these wars in order. 

Back home, the parents of the young boy have just learned of his death.  Their lives are over.

Two months later, the parents fly to a special ceremony in honor of fallen soldiers.  At the same time the parents are being seated, the President of the United States is in a back room, watching a game on ESPN as he jokes with Secret Service agents.  An attaché comes in to tell the President that it’s time he made his entrance.

PRESIDENT:  Shit!  Oh, well…let’s get this thing over with.  Put this game on pause.  I’ll be right back.

The President puts on his “game face” and goes through the motions, offering his condolences to each parent as they take turns shaking the hand of the man who killed their sons.

When it’s over, the President returns to the back room.

PRESIDENT:  Turn the game back on.

Before he takes his seat, he uses anti-bacterial soap to wash his hands.  He hates touching strangers.  As he washes his hands, he also washes his mind of the parent’s faces and the names of their dead children.

A year has passed since the boy died.  His girlfriend has moved on.  She’s no longer into guys with uniforms, and she’ll never date a soldier again.  She’s met a much older man.  He’s divorced.  He owns a sporting goods store and plays in a band on weekends.  She lost her virginity on the second date.

Nine months later…another soldier is born.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Senator Lieberman!

Merry Christmas, Congressman Boehner!

Happy New Year, Mr. President!

 Goodbye, son.

Posted in USAComments Off on HELL IS FOR CHILDREN

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